Race/Ethnicity, Nativity and Morbidity Trajectories

Tyson H. Brown, Duke University

Cross-sectional studies have shown that morbidity levels vary by race/ethnicity and nativity; however, little is known about racial/ethnic/nativity disparities in the rate of accumulation of life-threatening chronic conditions (e.g. cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke). This study utilizes a life course framework, seven waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study, and growth curve models to investigate race/ethnic/nativity inequality in morbidity age-trajectories. In addition, I examine the extent to which group differences in life course capital (e.g. social origins, SES, marriage, and health behaviors) account for health disparities. Results reveal that both chronic condition levels and rates of accumulation vary by race/ethnicity/nativity, net of death and dropout attrition. Native-born blacks and Hispanics have worse morbidity trajectories than their white counterparts, and there is clear evidence of an immigrant health advantage across all racial/ethnic groups, which appears to be the result of a healthy migrant selection effect.

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Presented in Session 3: Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Health and Mortality