Social and scientific discourses on healthy ageing and on health equity are increasingly available, yet from a global perspective limited conceptual and analytical work connecting both has been published. This review was done to inform the WHO World Report on Ageing and Health and to inform and encourage further work addressing both healthy aging and equity.
We conducted an extensive literature review on the overlap between both topics, privileging publications from 2005 onward, from low-, middle-, and high-income countries. We also reviewed evidence generated around the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, applicable to ageing and health across the life course.
Based on data from 194 countries, we highlight differences in older adults’ health and consider three issues: First, multilevel factors that contribute to differences in healthy ageing, across contexts; second, policies or potential entry points for action that could serve to reduce unfair differences (health inequities); and third, new research areas to address the cause of persistent inequities and gaps in evidence on what can be done to increase healthy ageing and health equity.
Each of these areas warrant in depth analysis and synthesis, whereas this article presents an overview for further consideration and action.