Life-Course Trajectories in Black and White Differentials in Self-Rated Health: Using a Hierarchical Age-Period-Cohort Approach

Seung-Eun Song, University of Texas at Austin

The present study examines the life-course patterns of black-white disparities in self-rated health, using repeated cross-sectional data of the 1982-2007 National Health Interview Survey. The hierarchical age-period-cohort model is utilized to adequately separate age effects from period and cohort effects. Preliminary results show that black-white differentials in health diverge until about age 62, followed by progressive convergence throughout later old age. We also observe temporal trends toward narrowing racial disparities in health in the context of generally deteriorating health over recent periods, particularly for whites. Cohort patterns substantially differ between blacks and whites, resulting in the inverted U-shaped curve of racial disparities in health across birth cohorts. Ignoring cohort patterns leads to a more rapid rate of increasing and decreasing the race-health relationships over the life-course, while ignoring period patterns makes it flatter. The large portion of age - and cohort-specific racial variations is explained by the compositional differences in education and marital status.

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Presented in Poster Session 1