1st Edition

Inequality Kills Us All COVID-19's Health Lessons for the World

By Stephen Bezruchka Copyright 2023
    230 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The complex answer to why the United States does so poorly in health measures has at its base one pervasive issue: The United States has by far the highest levels of inequality of all the rich countries. Inequality Kills Us All details how living in a society with entrenched hierarchies increases the negative effects of illnesses for everyone.

    The antidote must start, Stephen Bezruchka recognizes, with a broader awareness of the nature of the problem, and out of that understanding policies that eliminate these inequalities: A fair system of taxation, so that the rich are paying their share; support for child well-being, including paid parental leave, continued monthly child support payments, and equitable educational opportunities; universal access to healthcare; and a guaranteed income for all Americans. The aim is to have a society that treats everyone well—and health will follow.


    Foreword by Richard Wilkinson


    1. How healthy are we in the United States

    2. Healthcare in America

    3. Inequality Kills

    4. Poverty Perspectives

    5. Early Life Lasts a Lifetime

    6. Health Inequities

    7. Stress is the Killer

    8. Our Health Depends on Political Choices

    9. Prescription Needed

    10. What Can We Do?




    Stephen Bezruchka is Associate Teaching Professor in the Departments of Health Systems & Population Health and of Global Health at the School of Public Health, University of Washington, in Seattle. He worked as an emergency physician for decades and now teaches concepts presented in this book at the University of Washington.

    "COVID-19 exposed how our unequal society leaves us vulnerable to poor health. In his new book, Stephen Bezruchka helps us to see the urgency of the problem, and makes a case for the changes necessary for creating a healthier world."

    Sandro Galea, Dean School of Public Health, Boston University

    "Capitalism, as Piketty showed us again, generates and deepens inequality. Bezruchka's book shows us how that inequality shortens lives across the world even among those who celebrate capitalism. This important book also drives home a crucial lesson for public health we need to draw from our very diverse Covid experiences."

    Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, Univ of Massachusetts, Amherst and co-founder of Democracy at Work.

    "When the pandemic hit, we imagined a silver lining – ‘at least we’ll realize that we’re in this together.’ That laughable naiveté evaporated as the virus disproportionately savaged America’s have-nots. Stephen Bezruchka, one of the subject’s wisest scholars, documents how Covid-19 is merely a sped-up version of decades of festering health inequality. This superb book will convince anyone other than ideologues that something is brutally wrong with American health."

    Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology, and Professor of Neurology and of Neurosurgery, Stanford University.

    "Inequality Kills Us All diagnoses nations as if they were patients, showing how poverty and riches are both human inventions that come with serious public health consequences. The always insightful and provocative Stephen Bezruchka was an emergency physician who then taught Nepali doctors in remote areas there before becoming a public health professor. He teaches how policy choices determine longevity and quality of life, and how smarter policies would reduce harm while spreading more joy."

    David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and bestselling author

    This book should be a must-read for politicians, policymakers, and the public. It shows how and why the Covid-19 pandemic wrought such havoc in America, and how inequality set the scene for that chaos and is the biggest public health challenge of our time. We ignore the evidence assembled so skillfully here at our peril.

    Kate E Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology, Deputy Director of the Centre for Future Health, Associate Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, University of York