Seminar Series

Time and Date: 12 pm – 1 pm AST on March 20, 2024

Title: (Unequal) opportunity for health among older adults in the United States: Preliminary analysis of the Health and Retirement Study

Presenter: Yukiko Asada, PhD. Investigator, National Institute of Health, Clinical Center, Department of Bioethics

Join on your computer, mobile app or room device

Click here to join the meeting


Social inequality is one of the most pressing and persistent concerns in Canada and globally. However, strict equality in, for example, income, education, and health is rarely identified as the goal. Rather, society typically strives for alleviating part of social inequality deemed unfair. Many egalitarian theories offer diverse accounts as to what part of social inequality should be considered unfair and why. Equality of opportunity, a broad umbrella category of egalitarian theories, has become predominant among egalitarian theories in recent decades. Briefly, equality of opportunity (“equal opportunity” henceforth) states that inequality due to factors beyond individual control is unfair, whereas inequality due to factors within individual control is fair. According to this view, for example, inequality in income or health resulting from childhood socioeconomic circumstances is often considered as unfair, while inequality resulting from freely chosen commitment to (or lack thereof) hard work or health-enabling behaviours is often considered as ethically justifiable. This talk will present preliminary empirical work applying the equality of opportunity view using the Health and Retirement Study in the United States.


Dr. Yukiko Asada joined the Department of Bioethics in the fall of 2022 as a faculty member and an investigator in the NIH intramural research program with a focus on health disparities/inequalities and ethics. She is a 2023 NIH Distinguished Scholar. Dr. Asada’s research contributes to establish sound foundations of fairness in health systems and the health of populations locally, nationally, and globally.

Dr. Asada is a quantitatively trained population health researcher focusing on ethical issues in population health. Her research seeks to make explicit the implicit assumptions underlying quantitative methods used in population health research. Her program of research articulates the concept of health inequity, advances the measurement of health inequity, and promotes public dialogues on health inequity. Prior to joining NIH, she was Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University. She obtained a PhD in Population Health from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.