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

Publication Abstract

Schoenbaum, Michael, and Timothy A. Waidmann. "Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Health: Accounting for Race Differences in Health." PSC Research Report No. 95-333. June 1995.

This paper uses the Health and Retirement Survey and the AHEAD to examine the extent to which observed differences in prevalence of chronic conditions and functional limitations between black and white adults (aged 50+) in the U.S. can be attributed to differences in various aspects of socioeconomic status (SES) between these groups. The authors use linear and logistic regression techniques to model the relationships between health outcomes and SES. Their 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 their 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 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.

Dataset(s): Health and Retirement Survey (HRS): U.S., 1992. Asset and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD): U.S., 1992.

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