Reducing Health inequalities in the European Union (long version)
Despite increased prosperity and overall improvements in health in the EU, health differences between and within countries persist and in some cases are increasing. Difference in life expectancy at birth between Member States reach up to 8 years for women and 14 years for men. The reasons behind these differences are complex and involve a wide range of factors from income, education, living and working conditions, health behaviours to access to healthcare. A possible consequence of the current financial crisis is that this health gap will increase in the groups most hit by the recession such as the unemployed. The Commission initiative identifies action for improving knowledge on this issue, better monitoring and data collection, more assessment of how EU policies can tackle health inequalities and work with countries, regions and stakeholders.