Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Health

Accounting for Race Differences in Health

Published In: The Journals of Gerontology Series B, v. 52B, 1997, p. 61-73

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1996

by Michael Schoenbaum, Timothy Waidmann

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Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) data were used to examine the extent to which observed differences in the prevalence of chronic conditions and functional limitations between black adults and white adults (aged 70 ) in the United States can be attributed to differences in socioeconomic status (SES). Regression analyses show that race differences in SES explain much, but not all, of black/white differences in health status. The findings do not prove that low SES directly causes poor health, any more than being black does, but they suggest that those addressing the deficit in health status among blacks in the United States should begin with the deficit in wealth and education.

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