Race/Ethnicity, Life Course Capital and Health Trajectories

Tyson H. Brown, Duke University

Racial/ethnic disparities in health levels are well-documented, yet less is known about racial/ethnic differences in age-trajectories of health (i.e., long-term, intra-individual rates of stability and change in health with age). This study integrates demographic and developmental perspectives by utilizing seven waves of panel data from the Health and Retirement Study, hierarchical linear models, and life course theory to investigate racial/ethnic differences in trajectories of chronic conditions and functional limitations between the ages of 51 and 73. In addition, this study examines the extent to which racial/ethnic inequalities in various forms of life course capital (e.g. human, economic, social capital) account for health disparities between blacks, Hispanics, and whites. Results show that health levels and rates of change vary by race/ethnicity, and that controlling for individual-level measures of life course capital reduces but does not eliminate racial/ethnic disparities in health trajectories.

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Presented in Session 117: Race and Ethnic Inequality