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Christchurch City Council Media Release 12 July 2001

Social Capital World Expert In City

One of the world’s experts in the field of social capital is being brought to Christchurch by the City Council. He is Associate Professor of Health and Social Behaviour at the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States, Ichiro Kawachi, who obtained his medical and PhD degrees at Otago University.

Professor Kawachi is also the Director of the Centre for Society and Health at Harvard and has served as a consultant to the World Bank and World Health Organization.

Professor Kawachi’s expertise relates to work that the Council is carrying out in social welfare policy, particularly through the Mayor’s Taskforce on Poverty, and also regarding social sustainability.

The Professor will give a lecture at the Council on 1 August from noon to 1.30pm. He will also give a public lecture August 3 from noon to 2pm (at Netball Centre in Hagley Park).

He will also give a series of seminars and workshops at the University of Canterbury, the Otago University’s Christchurch School of Medicine, and at the Public Health Association.

His pioneering work reveals that life expectancy and illness are closely related to the structure of a given society and that variations in health achievement across populations are primarily related to socio-structural factors, including income inequality, lack of educational opportunities, breakdown of social cohesion, and racism.

He says that societies with greater income and social inequality, such as the US and Great Britain, have far higher rates of certain illnesses and far lower life-expectancy rates across all social classes than do more equitable societies, whether rich or poor.

Professor Kawachi argues that the increasing gap between rich and poor in the US has had deleterious health consequences for the entire population. He says that even a modest reduction in income inequality could bring a significant health improvement for all.

For more information contact (

Related Information: Profile of Professor Kawachi   pdf document

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