HI/MIP network member Kate Pickett is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. She is the University’s Research Champion for Justice and Equality and leads the Ph.D. program in Health Sciences. Pickett’s research focuses on the social determinants of health, particularly the influences of such factors as income inequality, social class, neighborhood context and ethnic density on such varied outcomes as mortality and morbidity, teenage birth, violent crime, obesity, social mobility, and health-related behaviors. She is also a co-founder and trustee of The Equality Trust.
Describe your area of study and how it relates to current policy discussions surrounding inequality.
I am a social epidemiologist, studying the social determinants of health and health inequalities. In particular, I focus on how socioeconomic inequality affects the health and social wellbeing of whole societies. My research has implications for policy as it suggests that inequality (a) affects a wide range of outcomes, (b) affects people across the social gradient, and (c) has a large impact. This suggests that we need both top-end and bottom-end solutions to reduce inequality and need to embed a culture of greater equality into the institutions where incomes are established, i.e., more economic democracy.
What areas in the study of inequality are most in need of new research?
We need more research on the psychosocial pathways that connect inequality to health and social problems, more research on how people are affected across the income scale, and more research on how epigenetics and child development play a role in the intergenerational transmission of inequality.
What advice do you have for emerging scholars in your field?
Maintain focus on the big picture and don't expect complex problems to necessarily produce simple research results. If a result doesn't seem to fit, don't dismiss it, instead think about what it might teach you about the complexity.