Proportionate Universalism and Public Health: An Analysis of WRR Policy Brief From Disparity to Potential

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The article analyses the public health policy brief From Disparity to Potential by the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). It argues that the policy brief presents a distinctive and novel brand of proportionate universalism, a theory proposed by Sir Michael Marmot (2010). The article situates the policy brief in the wider debate on proportionate universalism and offers an evaluation from an ethical perspective. It argues that the WRR’s version of proportionate universalism exhibits two flaws: (1) the definition of socio-economic status is unduly focused on education levels and thus ignores important, health-relevant disparities; (2) whilst the policy brief endorses subsidiarity, it remains focused on governmental and economic actors, ignoring the importance of voluntary associations, such as churches and faith-based organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalNTT: Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2021


  • public health policy
  • proportionate universalism
  • Socio-economic status (SES)
  • health disparity
  • health potential
  • ethics
  • Marmot Review
  • WRR

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