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Consensus Study Report


In their later years, Americans of different racial and ethnic backgrounds are not in equally good—or equally poor—health. There is wide variation, but on average older Whites are healthier than older Blacks and tend to outlive them. But Whites tend to be in poorer health than Hispanics and Asian Americans. This volume documents the differentials and considers possible explanations.

Selection processes play a role: selective migration, for instance, or selective survival to advanced ages. Health differentials originate early in life, possibly even before birth, and are affected by events and experiences throughout the life course. Differences in socioeconomic status, risk behavior, social relations, and health care all play a role. Separate chapters consider the contribution of such factors and the biopsychosocial mechanisms that link them to health. This volume provides the empirical evidence for the research agenda provided in the separate report of the Panel on Race, Ethnicity, and Health in Later Life.

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2004. Critical Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

752 pages |  6 x 9 | 

  • Paperback:  978-0-309-09211-1
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-16570-9
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-xvi
1 Introduction--Barney Cohen 1-22
Section I--The Nature of Racial and Ethnic Differences2 Racial and Ethnic Identification, Official Classifications, and Health Disparities 23-52
3 Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Mortality Among the U.S. Elderly Population 53-94
4 Ethnic Differences in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease 95-142
Section II--Two Key Conceptual and Methodological Challenges5 The Life-Course Contribution to Ethnic Disparities in Health 143-170
6 Selection Processes in the Study of Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Adult Health and Mortality 171-226
7 Immigrant Health: Selectivity and Acculturation 227-266
Section III--The Search For Causal Pathways8 Genetic Factors in Ethnic Disparities in Health 267-309
9 Race/Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, and Health 310-352
10 The Role of Social and Personal Resources in Ethnic Disparities in Late-Life Health 353-405
11 What Makes a Place Healthy? Neighborhood Influences on Racial/ Ethnic Disparities in Health over the Life Course 406-449
12 Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Behaviors: A Challenge to Current Assumptions 450-491
13 Cumulative Psychosocial Risks and Resilience: A Conceptual Perspective on Ethnic Health Disparities in Late Life 492-539
14 Significance of Perceived Racism: Toward Understanding Ethnic Group Disparities in Health, the Later Years 540-566
15 A Neurovisceral Integration Model of Health Disparities in Aging 567-603
16 Geography and Racial Health Disparities 604-640
Section IV--The Challenge Of Identifying Effective Interventions17 Behavioral Health Interventions: What Works and Why? 641-674
Section V--Two International Comparisons18 Ethnic Disparities in Aging Health: What Can We Learn from the United Kingdom? 675-702
19 An Exploratory Investigation into Racial Disparities in the Health of Older South Africans 703-736

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