Regimes of Inequality: The Political Economy of Health and Wealth



Julia Lynch, University of Pennsylvania

Date and Time

March 5, 2020 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM March 03.


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
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. This book examines the political dynamics underlying the “new normal” of high and rising inequality since 1980. To do so, it traces 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
Julia Lynch is an 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 special interests in comparative health policy and the politics of health inequalities; the politics of aging; and the relationship between party systems and political economy in western Europe. Lynch serves as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization’s European regional office on issues of health equity, and is past chair of the Health Politics and Policy section of the American Political Science Association and past treasurer of the Council for European Studies. She is editor of Socio-Economic Review, a multi-disciplinary journal focusing on analytical, political and moral questions arising at the intersection of economy and society.  At Penn, Lynch is faculty director of the Penn In Washington Program and co-director of the Penn-Temple European Studies Colloquium. Lynch holds a BA from Harvard University, a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and has held visiting appointments at the European University Institute, Sciences Po, and Oxford.

Share this Event