We have written and contributed to several educational texts focusing on health equity. Our most recent publication is Unequal Cities: Structural Racism and the Death Gap in America’s 30 Largest Cities.

Unequal Cities: Structural Racism and the Death Gap in America’s 30 Largest Cities

Maureen R. Benjamins and Fernando G. De Maio (eds.)

Across the United States, Blacks have shorter life expectancies than whites—reflecting structural racism and deep-rooted drivers of population health. But are some cities more equal than others? The elimination of racial and ethnic inequities—differences that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unfair—has been one of the overarching health-related goals of the United States for decades. Yet dramatic differences in health outcomes between Blacks and whites persist, rooted in structural and social determinants of health. Nationally, a Black baby can expect to live four years less than a white baby. But mortality outcomes and inequities vary widely across cities. In Washington, DC, for example, the average life expectancy for Blacks is twelve years less than that of whites. But in other cities, mortality differences between races are less striking or nonexistent. If health equity can be achieved in some cities, why not all? This is arguably the most important health equity issue of our time.

Find out more or purchase the book from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Community Health Equity: A Chicago Reader

Community Health Equity: A Chicago ReaderFernando De Maio, Raj Shah, John Mazzeo, & David Ansell (eds.)

Perhaps more than any other American city, Chicago has been a center for the study of both urban history and economic inequity. Community Health Equity assembles a century of research to show the range of effects that Chicago’s structural socioeconomic inequalities have had on patients and medical facilities alike. The work collected here makes clear that when a city is sharply divided by power, wealth, and race, the citizens who most need high-quality health care and social services have the greatest difficulty accessing them. Achieving good health is not simply a matter of making the right choices as an individual, the research demonstrates: it’s the product of large-scale political and economic forces. Understanding these forces, and what we can do to correct them, should be critical not only to doctors but to sociologists and students of the urban environment—and no city offers more inspiring examples for action to overcome social injustice in health than Chicago.

Find out more or purchase the book from University of Chicago Press.

Latin American Perspectives on the Sociology of Health and Illness

Latin American Perspectives on the Sociology of Health and IllnessFernando De Maio, Ignacio Llovet, & Graciela Dinardi (eds.)

The sociology of health and illness is a rapidly growing field. Yet, as a field, it has suffered from a remarkably limited perspective dominated by scholarship produced in the global north. Scholars in the sociology of health and illness have been late to enter debates in global health and have generally failed to learn lessons from work originating in the global south. To begin to address this limitation, this edited collection features notable contributions from Latin American scholars exploring key issues, including sickle cell disease in Brazil, cancer and Chagas disease in Argentina and reproductive health in Mexico. This collection, offering a snapshot of the rich and nuanced research being conducted in the region, offers readers valuable lessons. It is our argument that Latin American health sociology has much to offer the larger field of sociology – both for what it can teach us about Latin America in and of itself, and for what this field of scholarship can teach us about health and illness as broadly defined. This collection challenges readers to think about the global nature of health inequalities. Rich in empirical data and theoretical substance, this book is an essential collection for readers interested in understanding the sociology of health and illness.

Find out more or purchase the book from Routledge.

The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills

The Death Gap: How Inequality KillsDavid Ansell

We hear plenty about the widening income gap between the rich and the poor in America and about the expanding distance separating the haves and the have-nots. But when detailing the many things that the poor have not, we often overlook the most critical—their health. The poor die sooner. Blacks die sooner. And poor urban blacks die sooner than almost all other Americans. In nearly four decades as a doctor at hospitals serving some of the poorest communities in Chicago, David A. Ansell, MD, has witnessed firsthand the lives behind these devastating statistics. In The Death Gap, he gives a grim survey of these realities, drawn from observations and stories of his patients.

While the contrasts and disparities among Chicago’s communities are particularly stark, the death gap is truly a nationwide epidemic—as Ansell shows, there is a thirty-five-year difference in life expectancy between the healthiest and wealthiest and the poorest and sickest American neighborhoods. If you are poor, where you live in America can dictate when you die. It doesn’t need to be this way; such divisions are not inevitable. Ansell calls out the social and cultural arguments that have been raised as ways of explaining or excusing these gaps, and he lays bare the structural violence—the racism, economic exploitation, and discrimination—that is really to blame. Inequality is a disease, Ansell argues, and we need to treat and eradicate it as we would any major illness. To do so, he outlines a vision that will provide the foundation for a healthier nation—for all.

Inequality is all around us, and often the distance between high and low life expectancy can be a matter of just a few blocks. But geography need not be destiny, urges Ansell. In The Death Gap he shows us how we can face this national health crisis head-on and take action against the circumstances that rob people of their dignity and their lives.

Find out more or purchase the book from University of Chicago Press.


GentrifierJohn Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill

Gentrifier opens up a new conversation about gentrification, one that goes beyond the statistics and the clichés, and examines different sides of a controversial, deeply personal issue. In this lively yet rigorous book, John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill take a close look at the socioeconomic factors and individual decisions behind gentrification and their implications for the displacement of low-income residents. Drawing on a variety of perspectives, the authors present interviews, case studies, and analysis in the context of recent scholarship in such areas as urban sociology, geography, planning, and public policy. As well, they share accounts of their first-hand experience as academics, parents, and spouses living in New York City, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Providence. With unique insight and rare candour, Gentrifier challenges readers’ current understandings of gentrification and their own roles within their neighborhoods. A foreword by Peter Marcuse opens the volume.

Find out more or purchase the book from University of Toronto Press.

Neoliberal Chicago

Neoliberal ChicagoLarry Bennett, Roberta Garner, & Euan Hague (eds.)

The neoliberal philosophy of fiscal austerity aligned with reduced economic regulation has transformed Chicago. As pursued by mayor Rahm Emanuel and his predecessor Richard M. Daley, neoliberal thinking has led officials to gut regulations and social services, privatize everything from parking meters to schools, and promote gentrification as their default neighborhood development tool.

The essayists in Neoliberal Chicago explore an essential question: how does neoliberalism work on the ground in today’s Chicago? Contextual chapters explore race relations, physical development, and why Chicago embraced neoliberalism. Other contributors delve into aspects of the neoliberal vision, neoliberalism’s impact on three iconic city spaces, and how events like the 2008 foreclosure crisis and the bid to attract the Olympic Games reveal the workings of neoliberalism.

Find out more or purchase the book from University of Illinois Press.