The finding that there is a social gradient in health has prompted considerable interest in public health circles. Recent influential works describing health inequities and their causes do not always argue cogently for a policy framework that would drive the most appropriate solutions differentially across the social gradient[.] This paper aims to develop a practice heuristic for proportionate universalism.



Through a review the proposed heuristic integrates evidence from welfare state and policy research, the literature on universal and targeted policy frameworks, and a multi-level governance approach that adopts the principle of subsidiarity.



The proposed heuristic provides a more-grained analysis of different policy approaches, integral for operationalizing the concept of proportionate universalism.



The proposed framework would allow governments at all levels, social policy developers and bureaucrats, public health professionals and activists to consider the appropriateness of distinctive policy objectives across distinctive population needs within universal welfare state principles.