Do Rising Tides Lift All Boats Equally? Lifetime Socioeconomic Status and Health Outcomes among Blacks and Whites in the U.S.

Cynthia G. Colen, Ohio State University
Casey G. Knutson, Ohio State University

Minority populations in the United States often face stark inequalities in health. The life course perspective offers a unique viewpoint through which racial disparities in morbidity and mortality may be understood as the result of repeated exposures to risk factors during both childhood and adulthood. However, the utility of this approach is limited by its failure to investigate the degree to which minority populations are able to translate gains in socioeconomic status (SES) into favorable health outcomes. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and four U.S. Decennial Censuses, we employ growth curve models to estimate the association between fluctuations in lifetime SES and two measures of physical well-being: self-reported health and disability status. Additionally, we assess the extent to which structural level racial inequalities, such as residential segregation, differential wealth accumulation and labor market segmentation, account for black/white disparities in this association.

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Presented in Session 96: Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Health and Mortality