Which ethnic groups have the poorest health?

This report examines differences in the health of ethnic groups in Scotland and uses census health data to identify variations between groups. The analysis employs age-standardised rates to compare people of similar age, which avoids the often misleading direct comparisons between populations with very different age structures.

2. Background

Poor health is caused by a wide range of factors, including biological determinants such as age, sex, hereditary factors, and wider social determinants such as education, social position, income, local environment, and experiences of racism and racial discrimination[5].

The social determinants of health are unequally distributed across ethnic groups, leading to unjust and preventable inequalities. There is a policy commitment in Scotland to address discrimination against minority ethnic groups and health inequalities[6].

As this analysis shows, ethnic groups have very different levels of health. Addressing the social determinants of health can play an important part in improving the health of the population of Scotland, reducing ethnic health inequalities.

There exists other evidence that ethnicity is strongly associated with health outcomes. For example, people from minority ethnic groups generally have lower rates of mortality than the general population, and rates of heart disease and diabetes vary by ethnic group. The Ministerial Task Force[7] for Health Inequalities notes that differences in health between ethnic groups are at least as large as between rich and poor.


Email: Jon Hunter

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