The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including availability of and access to health services. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.

The Commission on Social Determinants of Health focused on nine broad areas which determine health:

  • Early child development
  • Employment conditions
  • Globalization
  • Social exclusion
  • Health systems
  • Priority public health conditions
  • Measurement and evidence
  • Women and gender equity
  • Urbanization

What are health inequities?

Executive Summary of the Report by the Commission for the Social Determinants of Health

Full Report by the Commission

Report by the Secretariat to the WHO Executive Board

Reducing Health Inequities Through Action on the Social Determinants of Health. Resolution EB 124

Presentation to World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, Rio de Janeiro, October 2011