Final Conference: ‘Health Inequalities: New Methods, Better Insights?’

Hosted virtually by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) on 8 December, the conference served as the official presentation of the final report produced within the cross-disciplinary ALLEA-FEAM Health Inequalities project.


The ALLEA-FEAM report presented at the conference highlights new analytic methods that can help the scientific community to better understand the causal relationship of certain social determinants, such as education, occupational class, and income level, in generating and reproducing health inequalities in Europe. Examples of such new methods include “counterfactual” approaches to assess the causal effect of socio-economic conditions on health, and “natural experiments” to evaluate the to evaluate the impact of policy interventions on health inequalities.

The conference was chaired by Professor Johannes Siegrist, Medical Faculty of the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and member of the ALLEA-FEAM Scientific Committee on Health Inequalities. Speakers included Professor Johan Mackenbach, Director of the Department of Public Health at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and Chair of the ALLEA-FEAM Scientific Committee; Professor Sjaak Neefjes, Professor of Chemical Immunology at Leiden University Medical Center and KNAW Board Member; and Professor Ana Diez Roux, Professor of Epidemiology at Drexel University, among other experts.

Professor Annette Grüters-Kieslich delivers the closing remarks on behalf of ALLEA.

The closing remarks were delivered by Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Charité and ALLEA Vice Pre-sident, Annette Grüters-Kieslich. Professor Grüters-Kieslich praised the interdisciplinary nature of the study and called for a rethinking of research into health inequalities not only at a national level, but also at a European level, as the mechanisms and consequences of inequalities in health transcend political borders. On the value of the report, Professor Grüters-Kieslich remarked:

I am confident that if stakeholders from research, policy, and the wider society come together, there is a potential to see a timely change for the better. The valuable report certainly delivers the necessary data to facilitate immediate actions.

This conference represents the conclusion of the joint ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW project on the topic of health inequalities. You can watch the full conference below or on the KNAW website.



Read the ALLEA-FEAM report ‘Health Inequalities Research: New methods, better insights?’: Short version / Full report.

Learn more about the ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW joint project on health inequalities here.


Expert Workshop: ‘Evaluating Policies and Interventions to Reduce Health Inequalities: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue’

Initiated by the ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW Scientific Committee on Health Inequalities and for the third in a row, this expert workshop will aim at assessing available empirical and analytical methods to evaluate the impact of policies and interventions on socioeconomic inequalities in health.

Expert Workshop on Causality of Health Inequalities Held Online

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 healthover 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. 

Read more about ALLEA’s Health Inequalities activities