Race-ethnicity and health trajectories: tests of three hypotheses across multiple groups and health outcomes.
Racial-ethnic disparities in static levels of health are well documented. Less is known about racial-ethnic differences in age trajectories of health. The few studies on this topic have examined only single health outcomes and focused on black-white disparities. This study extends prior research by using a life course perspective, panel data from the Health and Retirement Study, and multilevel growth curve models to investigate racial-ethnic differences in the trajectories of serious conditions and functional limitations among blacks, Mexican Americans, and whites. We test three hypotheses on the nature of racial-ethnic disparities in health across the life course (aging-as-leveler, persistent inequality, and cumulative disadvantage). Results controlling for mortality selection reveal that support for the hypotheses varies by health outcome, racial-ethnic group, and life stage. Controlling for childhood socioeconomic status, adult social and economic resources, and health behaviors reduces but does not eliminate racial-ethnic disparities in health trajectories.
Brown, TH; O'Rand, AM; Adkins, DE
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