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Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Health: Accounting for Race Differences in Health

Publication Abstract

Schoenbaum, Michael, and Timothy A. Waidmann. 1997. "Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Health: Accounting for Race Differences in Health." Journals of Gerontology B: Psychological and Social Sciences, 52B(SpecialIssue): 61-73.

This article uses the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) study to examine the extent to which observed differences in the prevalence of chronic conditions and functional limitations between Black and White adults (aged 70+) in the United States can be attributed to differences in various aspects of socioeconomic status (SES) between these groups. We use linear and logistic regression techniques to model the relationships between health outcomes and SES. Our findings indicate that race differences in measurable socioeconomic characteristics indeed explain a substantial fraction, but in general not all, of Black/White differences in health status. While our findings do not suggest that low SES directly "causes" poor health, any more than being Black does so, they do suggest that research and policy intended to address the deficit in health status among Blacks (when compared to Whites) in the U.S. would be well-served to begin with the deficit in wealth, education, and other SES measures.

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