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  Öffentlicher Vortrag | Public Lecture

Mittwoch, 20. Mai 2020 | 17 Uhr (s.t.)

Regimes of Inequality: The Political Economy of Health and Wealth

Julia Lynch, University of Pennsylvania



Inequality has become an intractable feature of the rich industrialized democracies, despite consensus among mass publics and experts that more social and economic equality is desirable. In her talk, Julia Lynch examines the political dynamics underlying the “new normal” of high and rising inequality since 1980 by tracing the largely unsuccessful attempts of west European governments during this period to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in health. In England, France, and Finland, three quite different countries that span the range of European political economies, governments stated their intention to reduce inequalities in health – yet in all three cases they were largely unable or unwilling to do what it would take to achieve this goal. Lynch finds that when center-left politicians take up the issue of socioeconomic inequalities in health, they do so in response to perceived taboos against redistribution, public spending, and market regulation in a neoliberal era. Reframing inequality as a matter of health, rather than of the maldistribution of political or economic resources, is at best a partial solution, however: It reshapes the policy-making environment surrounding social inequality in ways that make it more difficult to reduce either socioeconomic inequality or health inequalities. Technocratic, medicalized inequality discourses result in shifting the Overton window around inequality away from tried-and-true policy remedies for inequality, and toward complex policy levers that are far more likely to fail. In short, inequality persists despite growing awareness of the harms it creates because of the way political leaders choose to talk about it – and not only because of economic necessity or demands from the electorate.

Julia Lynch is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the politics of inequality and social policy in the rich democracies, particularly the countries of western Europe. She has a special interest in comparative health policy and the politics of aging. She currently serves as editor of the journal Socio-Economic Review and as an expert advisor on health equity to the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Europe

Selected Publications
  • Lynch, Julia. 2020. Regimes of Inequality: The Political Economy of Health and Wealth. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press.
  • Cammett, Melanie, Julia Lynch, and Gabril Bilev. 2015. "The Influence of Private Health Care Financing on Citizen Trust in Government." Perspectives on Politics 13 (4): 938-957.
  • Pollack, Craig, and Julia Lynch. 2009. “The Health Status of People Undergoing Foreclosure in the Philadelphia Region.” American Journal of Public Health99 (10): 1833-1839.
  • Lynch, Julia, and Mikko Myrskylä. 2009. “Always the Third Rail? Pension Income and Policy Preferences in European Democracies.” Comparative Political Studies 42 (8), 1068-1097.
  • Anderson, Karen, and Julia Lynch. 2007. “Reconsidering Seniority Bias: Ageing, Internal Institutions, and Union Support for Pension Reform.” Comparative Politics 39 (2): 189-208.
  • Lynch, Julia. 2006. Age in the Welfare State: The Origins of Social Spending on Pensioners, Workers, and Children. Cambridge University Press.

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