The intersections of gender and class in health status and health care

Glob Public Health. 2008:3 Suppl 1:13-24. doi: 10.1080/17441690801892174.


It is increasingly recognized that different axes of social power relations, such as gender and class, are interrelated, not as additive but as intersecting processes. This paper has reviewed existing research on the intersections between gender and class, and their impacts on health status and access to health care. The review suggests that intersecting stratification processes can significantly alter the impacts of any one dimension of inequality taken by itself. Studies confirm that socio-economic status measures cannot fully account for gender inequalities in health. A number of studies show that both gender and class affect the way in which risk factors are translated into health outcomes, but their intersections can be complex. Other studies indicate that responses to unaffordable health care often vary by the gender and class location of sick individuals and their households. They strongly suggest that economic class should not be analysed by itself, and that apparent class differences can be misinterpreted without gender analysis. Insufficient attention to intersectionality in much of the health literature has significant human costs, because those affected most negatively tend to be those who are poorest and most oppressed by gender and other forms of social inequality. The programme and policy costs are also likely to be high in terms of poorly functioning programmes, and ineffective poverty alleviation and social and health policies.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Class*