Health Insecurity and Health Opportunity as Explanations if Trends in U.S. Gender-Specific Self-Reported Health Disparities, 1984-2007

Hui Zheng, Duke University

Variance function regression models and demographic decomposition methods are applied to identify sources of changes in health disparities in the U.S. from 1984 to 2007. Using NHIS data on self-reported health, we find that disparities in men’s health increased, while those of women decreased, for the whole period. Widening men’s health disparities are largely driven by increases in the effects of SES-demographic statuses on within-group disparities. These increases are moderated by increasing levels of men’s college attainment. But decreasing middle and upper income attainment and a decreasing employment rate further increase men’s health disparities. For women, the effects of SES-demographic statuses on health disparities also increased over time. This, however, was outweighed by increases in women’s college attainment, middle and upper income attainment, and employment rate. The result is overall declining health disparities for women. Two counterbalancing hypotheses–health insecurity and health opportunity–are developed to explain within-group disparities.

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Presented in Poster Session 5