Health inequality: advancing measurement, explanation, and policy process

Health inequality persist in Sweden and other countries, and in particular the major knowledge gaps concerning measurement of and the causal driving forces behind health inequality as well as impact of public policy on health inequality. These gaps represent barriers that prevent decision-makers to design cost-effective policy actions to mitigate the persistent health inequality.

This project will uncover knowledge gaps and push forward the research front on health inequality. It will also indicate what is achievable in terms of reduced inequality if appropriate policies were adopted and through what type of actions. Our vision is that this project will result in a major breakthrough in the analysis of health inequality that has puzzled researchers and decision-makers for decades.


The overall aim of the project is to establish an interdisciplinary research program on social-related health inequality. The breadth and depth of the project will enable identification and quantification of the driving forces on the health inequality and advance the analysis of cost-effectiveness of targeted policy.

CRB's role in the project

Linnéa Wickström Östervall is involved in an experimental sub-projects on exercise, commitment contracts, socioeconomic factors, time preferences and self-control. The aim is to analyse the role of individuals’ health-related behaviour on health inequality.

While much research focuses on inequality in health outcomes, inequality in risk factors and health behaviour is also important. A promising new way to affect health behaviour, related to behavioural economics, is to use what is known as “nudges”. The idea behind nudging is that better knowledge about people’s judgments and decision-making allows for tailored adaptations – small changes – in the decision situation, thereby making it easier for people to make choices consistent with their long-term goals of e.g. exercising regularly, or more frequently, to become fit and healthy. In this sub-project we will design and perform a field experiment on creating long-lasting exercise habits, testing various nudges.

Find out more

Contact at CRB

  • Linnea Wickström Östervall, PhD, Health Economics

The PI, Ulf Gerdtham, Professor of Health Economics and Erik Wengström, Assocate Professor, both at Lund University School of Economics and Management are also involved in this sub-project


This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) between 2015-2018