Much of the evidence suggesting that inequalities in health have been increasing over the last two decades has come from studies that compared the changes in relative health status of areas over time. Such studies ignore the movement of people between areas. This paper examines the population movement between small areas in Northern Ireland in the year prior to the 1991 census as well as the geographical distribution of migrants to Northern Ireland over the same period. It shows that deprived areas tended to become depopulated and that those who left these areas were the more affluent residents. While immigrants differed a little from the indigenous population, the overall effect of their distribution would be to maintain the geographical socio-economic status quo. The selective movement of people between areas would result in the distribution of health and ill-health becoming more polarized, i.e. produce a picture of widening inequalities between areas even though the distribution between individuals is unchanged. These processes suggest potential significant problems with the area-based approaches to monitoring health and inequalities in health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Social Psychology
- Health(social science)