Institutions, Incorporation, and Inequality: The Case of Minority Health Inequalities in Europe


Scholars interested in the relationship between social context and health have recently turned attention further “upstream” to understand how political, social, and economic institutions shape the distribution of life chances across contexts. We compare minority health inequalities across 22 European countries (N = 199,981) to investigate how two such arrangements—welfare state effort and immigrant incorporation policies—influence the distribution of health and health inequalities. We examine two measures of health from seven waves of the European Social Survey. Results from a series of multilevel mixed-effects models show that minority health inequalities vary across contexts and persist after accounting for socioeconomic differences. Cross-level interaction results show that welfare state effort is associated with better health for all groups but is unrelated to levels of inequality between groups. In contrast, policies aimed at protecting minorities from discrimination correlate with smaller relative health inequalities.

Journal of Health and Social Behavior,