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'Black report' on health inequalities

The working group on inequalities in health, chaired by Sir Douglas Black, had been commissioned in 1977 by the Labour government to investigate the variation in health outcomes across social classes and consider the causes and policy implications. 

Findings of the report

Inequalities in health: report of a research working group (also known as the 'Black report') was published in August 1980.

The group found that there were differences in mortality rates across the social groups, with those in lower social groups suffering higher rates of mortality. The report also found inequalities in access to health services, particularly preventative services, with low rates of uptake by the working classes.


The group's recommendations focused on increased government intervention and spending in community health and primary care, but also on broader social policy such as:

  • increasing child benefit
  • improving housing
  • agreeing minimum working conditions with unions.

By the time of publication, there had been a change in government and the Conservatives did not accept or endorse the recommendations due to the proposed scale of expenditure.


Socialist Health Association.
The Black Report 1980.
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Jenkin P.
Dispelling the Myths of the Black Report: A Memoir.
Contemporary British History.
2010; 16(3): 123–130.

Berridge V.
The Origin of the Black Report: A Conversation with Richard Wilkinson.
Contemporary British History.
2002; 16(3): 120–122.