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Table 1 Legitimate-illegitimate classification of variables according to the perspective of policy amenability

From: Unexplained health inequality – is it unfair?

Variable Legitimate vs. illegitimate classification
Demographics status  
 Age Legitimate
 Sex Illegitimate
 Marital status Illegitimate
 Race Illegitimate
 Country of birth Illegitimate
Health behaviour  
 Smoker type and history Illegitimate
 BMI Illegitimate
 Frequency of physical activity Illegitimate
Socioeconomic status  
 Household income Illegitimate
 Education Illegitimate
Health care factors  
 Has regular medical doctor Illegitimate
 Unmet need Illegitimate
 High blood pressure management Illegitimate
 Asthma medication management Illegitimate
 Pharmaceutical insurance Illegitimate
 Health insurance type Illegitimate
  1. BMI: body mass index.
  2. Variables are those we include in our analysis using the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health (JCUSH).
  3. “Policy amenability” argues that health inequality due to factors amenable to policy intervention is unfair [14].
  4. A legitimate source of health inequality means that the variable is not amenable to policy, thus, resulting health inequality is ethically acceptable.
  5. An illegitimate source of health inequality means that the variable is amenable to policy, thus, resulting health inequality is ethically unacceptable.