Bruce P. Kennedy Ed.D.

Former Assistant Professor of Health and Social Behavior
Department of Health and Social Behavior
Harvard School of Public Health
Discipline: Social Psychology Expertise: Health Care Inequalities

Investigator Award
Income Inequality, Social Capital, and Health: A New Synthesis
Award Year: 1996 Inequalities in health by socioeconomic status (SES) are large, pervasive, persistent, and widening. Most theories attempting to explain them use individual-level indicators of SES such as income, educational attainment, or occupation. In contrast, this project builds on a new hypothesis of unequal distribution of income as a determinant of health. Drs. Kawachi and Kennedy: (1) examine the relationship between income inequality and mortality at different points in time (1960 through 1990) and at different levels of analysis (state, MSA, county, individual); 2) outline a new theory of the production of health through social and political capital and demonstrate linkages between income inequality and varying access to these forms of capital; and 3) develop a conceptual definition of social capital, exploring its role as an intermediary variable between income inequality and mortality.


Bruce Kennedy was a former assistant professor of health and social behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health. He passed away on January 3, 2008. His Investigator Award project with co-investigator Ichiro Kawachi, M.D., Ph.D. resulted in the publication of three books and more than 15 articles in journals including the American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, and the British Medical Journal. Dr. Kennedy received his doctorate in developmental psychology from Harvard University, an M.Ed. in clinical psychology from Antioch University, and B.A. from the University of New Hampshire.