Race, Ethnicity, and the Health of Americans
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Americans are in general healthier than ever before as a
result of technological advances, preventive medicine, and broader access to health care; yet some racial and ethnic groups are less healthy, receive poorer care, and cannot expect to live as long as others. Statistics show marked differences in life expectancy, mortality, incidence of disease, and causes of death across racial and ethnic groups. Why is this?
According to popular opinion, racial groups are viewed as physically distinguishable populations that have a common ancestry. Although genetics and biology account for some aspects of the variation in health status among racial and ethnic groups, social science research demonstrates the powerful influence on health of risktaking and preventive behavior, social and economic inequalities, communities and environments, health policy, and racist practices. These overlapping dynamics play a significant role in explaining racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes.
“Race, Ethnicity, and the Health of Americans”
By Roberta Spalter-Roth, Terri Ann Lowenthal, and Mercedes Rubio
A Summary of the American Sociological Society Series on How Race and Ethnicity Matter. July 2005.