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Racial Segregation and Health Disparities Between Black and White Older Adults

The Journals of Gerontology
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Racial Segregation and Health Disparities Between Black and White Older Adults

Does racial segregation among Black and White seniors cause health disparities?

In this Journal of Gerontology article, you'll learn about:

  • Racial segregation among older adults

" As a result of racial segregation, Black people and White people live in very different community contexts. For example, not only are Black people more likely than White people to live in lower socioeconomic communities, but Black people are more likely than White people of the same income level to live in lower socioeconomic communities (Jargowsky) "

  • Researcher's theories on racial segregation and health disparities among seniors

" First, racial segregation can reinforce racial differences in opportunity structures and access to resources that more proximately affect health (structural pathways), affecting the education, occupation, economic, and service opportunities in neighborhoods and for individuals. Among the current cohort(s) of older adults who have experienced a lifetime of exposure to racial residential segregation, these structural pathways may have both a cumulative effect across the life course, and a contemporaneous effect (e.g., quality of and access to health, social, and transportation services, accessible and high quality markets, safe places to walk). Second, racial segregation may create an environment that heightens exposure to and perceptions of discrimination, which can affect stress and other psychosocial factors that are more proximal determinants of health (interpersonal pathways). "

  • Study results on the impact of self-reported health between White and Black older adults

" An interesting finding is that county percent Black emerged as a statistically significant predictor, but in an unexpected direction. After controlling for individual SES, county poverty, and racial segregation, Black older adults living in counties with a higher percentage of Black residents had better self-rated health than those in counties with fewer Black residents. All else being equal, living in a county with a greater percent Black may be associated with poor health among White older adults, but better health among Black older adults. "


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