Ichiro Kawachi, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Department of Society, Human Development and Health
Harvard School of Public Health
Email: ikawachi@hsph.harvard.edu Discipline: Epidemiology Expertise: Health Care Inequalities, Public and Population Health

Investigator Award
Income Inequality, Social Capital, and Health: A New Synthesis
Award Year: 1996 Inequalities in health by socioeconomic status (SES) are large, pervasive, persistent, and widening. Most theories attempting to explain them use individual-level indicators of SES such as income, educational attainment, or occupation. In contrast, this project builds on a new hypothesis of unequal distribution of income as a determinant of health. Drs. Kawachi and Kennedy: (1) examine the relationship between income inequality and mortality at different points in time (1960 through 1990) and at different levels of analysis (state, MSA, county, individual); 2) outline a new theory of the production of health through social and political capital and demonstrate linkages between income inequality and varying access to these forms of capital; and 3) develop a conceptual definition of social capital, exploring its role as an intermediary variable between income inequality and mortality.


Ichiro Kawachi is professor of social epidemiology and chair of the department of Society, Human Development, and Health. He is also the director of the Harvard Center for Society and Health, both at the Harvard School of Public Health. Kawachi received his M.D. and Ph.D., both from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Dr. Kawachi's research has focused on uncovering the social and economic determinants of population health. He is the author with Bruce Kennedy and Richard Wilkinson of Reader on Income Inequality and Health, (The New Press, 1999) and The Health of Nations with Bruce Kennedy, (The New Press, 2002) . He is the co-editor (with Lisa Berkman) of the first textbook on Social Epidemiology, published by Oxford University Press in 2000 and also co-editor (with Lisa Berkman) on the book Neighborhoods and Health, published by Oxford University Press, 2003. Dr. Kawachi has taught internationally, in Australia, Mexico, Chile, Taiwan, and New Zealand. He is a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Pan-American Health Organization/WHO. Kawachi serves as the Senior Editor (Social Epidemiology) of the journal Social Science & Medicine, as well as Editor pro tem of the American Journal of Epidemiology.