Education as a Social Determinant

Topics: Sociology, Australia, Higher education Pages: 8 (2678 words) Published: May 3, 2013
Critically discuss the claim that education is a social determinant of health, and that it is closely related to other determinants of health. Locate your discussion within an Australian context. Education is recognised as social determinant of health by the World Health Organisation, amongst many others such as, ethnicity, income, gender, housing, employment and socioeconomic status (World Health Organisation, n.d). The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines determinants of health as: The condition in which people are born, grow, live, work and age including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. The key purpose of this essay is to discuss why education is seen as a social determinant of health and also how education is closely related to other determinants of health, such as employment, income, socioeconomic status, and housing. This essay will analyse current statistics and scholarly articles that address education and its impact on society and health. Inequality in this context can be defined as the unequal distribution of, and access tom resources required for the development and social and emotional wellbeing of adults and children (Zubrick et al., n.d.). These resources can include human, psychological and social capital as well as income and wealth (Zubrick et al., n.d.). Social capital can be defined as the network of social connections that exist between people and their shared values and norms of behaviour (Griffiths et al., 2009).

Education can directly impact on health in many ways. Education can provide individuals and society opportunities to expand knowledge, develop and enhance skills and also empower the community. The South Australian Council of Social Services developed an information paper on the social determinants of health (Cannon, 2008). They highlight education as a social determinant of health and also how closely related education is to other determinants of health such as income and housing. The paper conveys that education provides people with the ability to make future choices regarding occupation. This ultimately gives control over future level of income and housing (Cannon, 2008). Unfortunately the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a survey which showed that 54% of Australians aged 15-74 years meet the literacy skills needs for complex demands of everyday life and work (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). Taft (1953), conducted a survey on a coal mining town in Western Australia. His survey was based on what the society valued a certain occupation, income, interest in the job and also education and intelligence required for the occupation. After analysing the 277 survey, Taft (1953), found that majority young adults valued education more than the income. High income and high prestige occupations, such as a doctor, meant that, that individuals made use of the education and intelligence. Taft (1953), highlighted that low prestige occupations such as street sweepers, had little intelligence or education. The relationship between occupation and education doesn’t always present good health, as identified by Fijishiro, (2010). He identifies that occupation can bring on stress, a harmful exposure to a person. The type of occupation a person is involved in may also by physically harmful and expose health hazards, for example, construction workers (Fijishiro, 2010). Some studies have also shown a negative impact on health from good housing (World Health Organisation, n.d.). WHO provides a great example of this, by explaining the option of a high education, high income, good housing and for instance, the cost for housing rises or rent rises, then this could impact...
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