Is Racial Discrimination an Equal Opportunity Health Risk? Racial Discrimination, Social Class and Health Status among Black and White Adults

Jenifer Bratter, Rice University
Bridget K. Gorman, Rice University

Racial differences in health have only begun to account for the influence of discriminatory treatment. Prior studies show that perceiving treatment as racist has a deleterious effect on health for racial minorities, possibly representing the missing link in racial health disparities. Using data from the 2004 wave of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we assess whether perceived racial discrimination explains black-white racial disparities in self-rated health. We find that measures of discrimination in combination of social class variables explain disparities; however, does this reflect the influence of discrimination has for blacks? Surprisingly, analyses reveal that the effect of discrimination appears to be more detrimental to the health of whites than to blacks. Our analyses reveal this arises due to the complicated relationships between race, social class and racial discrimination where whites report more discrimination at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum while blacks report more discrimination at the higher end.

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Presented in Session 117: Race and Ethnic Inequality