On 2 December, the Scientific Committee of the ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW project on Health Inequalities in Europe welcomed external experts to its second workshop, which was held online. Dedicated to exploring causality of socioeconomic inequalities in health, over 50 participants analysed and debated new approaches to assessing causality in an interdisciplinary dialogue.
Recent quasi-experimental studies have pointed out that a direct relationship between socioeconomic position and health could not be confirmed, and that factors such as education or income may not always lead to the assumption that there is a causal effect of such factors on health. Meanwhile, novel findings in genetics suggest a stronger role of genetic predisposition in ‘confounding’ as opposed to the causal effect of the indicators such as socioeconomic position and physical and mental wellbeing. This and other related perspectives were introduced and discussed by leading European experts in the field, who were joined by their North American counterparts despite the early hour across the pond.
Moderated by Axel Börsch-Supan, member of the National Academy of Leopoldina and Johan Mackenbach, Chair of the Scientific Committee of this tripartite project, workshop attendees emphasized the importance of causation both in the scientific as well as policy context. As such, they called for the need to adequately address socioeconomic disadvantages vis-à-vis policymakers in a unified voice from scientists.
Initially set to take place in March 2020 at the Leopoldina Academy in Berlin, this meeting was shifted to an online format due to the restrictions brought on by the current pandemic. In a next step, the Committee will start preparing the final workshop of this project, which will aim at evaluating current policies and interventions to reduce health inequalities.