This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Friday 5 June 2020, 8pm to 9pm
  • Location: Online event
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Missed this event? Watch the conversation on Youtube. 

The current Covid-19 pandemic has brought health inequalities into sharp focus and exposed that austerity was a choice; when the political will is there, things can be done differently.

But what might this mean for future health and other policy once the crisis has passed? How devastating would a return to austerity be to our social and mental health? And is there an opportunity to do things differently and build back better post Covid-19?

Sir Michael Marmot, Advisor to the World Health Organization Director-General on social determinants of health in the new WHO Division of Healthier Populations, and Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, discuss the social and mental health effects of inequality and the impacts of austerity.

Earlier this year, Sir Michael, a Professor of epidemiology at University College London, led a review of health inequalities and health equity in England 10 years after the landmark study Fair Society, Healthy Lives (The Marmot Review). The review concluded that improvements to life expectancy had stalled, patients are living longer in ill health, and that health inequality had risen following a decade of austerity.

Together with Richard, co-author of The Spirit Level and The Inner Level, Sir Michael will discuss why England’s health is faltering and why health equity should be put at the heart of all policymaking.

Missed this event? Watch the conversation on Youtube.


About the speakers

Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot is Director of the Institute of Health Equity, UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. He has been Professor of Epidemiology at University College London since 1985.  Sir Michael is the author of The Health Gap: the challenge of an unequal world (Bloomsbury: 2015), and Status Syndrome: how your place on the social gradient directly affects your health (Bloomsbury: 2004). He is the Advisor to the WHO Director-General, on social determinants of health, in the new WHO Division of Healthier Populations.  He took up a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2019, and is the recipient of the WHO Global Hero Award.  He held the Harvard Lown Professorship for 2014-2017 and received Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health 2015. He has accepted honorary doctorates from 18 universities. He has led research groups on health inequalities for nearly 50 years.  He chaired the Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas, set up in 2015 by the World Health Organization’s Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO).  He was Chair of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH), which was set up by the World Health Organization in 2005, and produced the report entitled: ‘Closing the Gap in a Generation’ in August 2008.  At the request of the British Government, he conducted the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post 2010, which published its report 'Fair Society, Healthy Lives' in February 2010. This was followed by the European Review of Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide, for WHO EURO in 2014, and in 2020 Health Equity in England: Marmot Review 10 Years On.

Sir Michael chaired the Expert Panel for the WCRF/AICR 2007 Second Expert Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. He chaired the Breast Screening Review for the NHS National Cancer Action Team and was a member of The Lancet-University of Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health.  He set up and led a number of longitudinal cohort studies on the social gradient in health in the UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health (where he was head of department for 25 years): the Whitehall II Studies of British Civil Servants, investigating explanations for the striking inverse social gradient in morbidity and mortality; the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), and several international research efforts on the social determinants of health.  He served as President of the British Medical Association (BMA) in 2010-2011, and as President of the World Medical Association in 2015.  He is President of the British Lung Foundation.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology; a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences; an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians.  He was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for six years and in 2000 he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen, for services to epidemiology and the understanding of health inequalities.  Sir Michael is a Member of the National Academy of Medicine.  @MichaelMarmot

Richard Wilkinson co-founded The Equality Trust (with support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust). He studied economic history and the philosophy of science at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology.  From the 1970s onwards, his research focused on social class differences in death rates.  He has played a formative role in international research on the social determinants of health and on the societal effects of income inequality.  His books and papers have drawn attention to the tendency for societies with bigger income differences between rich and poor to have a higher prevalence of a wide range of health and social problems.  Two of his books have been the subject of documentary films – one called The Great Leveller for the TV Channel 4 Equinox series broadcast in prime time in 1996 (to coincide with the publication of his Unhealthy Societies) and another, called The Divide (based on The Spirit Level) released in April 2016 and is now available on Netflix.

Richard is Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School, Honorary Professor at University College London and Visiting Professor at the University of York.  He wrote The Spirit Level with Kate Pickett, a best seller now available in 24 languages. It won the 2011 Political Studies Association Publication of the Year Award and the 2010 Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize. In 2013 Richard received Solidar’s Silver Rose Award and the Community Access Unlimited’s ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ Award.  The Irish Cancer Society awarded him the 2014 Charles Cully Memorial medal, and he was the 2017 medallist of The Australian Society for Medical Research.


University of York