Black and white : does race matter for health outcomes among Hispanics?
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Heterogeneity within the Hispanic population in the United States (US) has important implications for health. Despite the empirical work examining heterogeneity in Hispanic health and mortality by nativity, generational status, and country of origin, relatively little research has been devoted to understanding if and how racial identification impacts Hispanic health outcomes. Racial differences in health and mortality are well documented throughout the literature, particularly for non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites. Meanwhile, current socio-demographic and health literature commonly compares US non-Hispanic racial groups with people who claim Hispanic ethnicity, the latter of whom are comprised of multiple racial groups. Thus, this dissertation examines the racial heterogeneity of the Hispanic population and the implications of race for physical health among Hispanics. Using the National Health Interview Survey and the National Centers for Health Statistics Linked Birth/Infant Death Cohort Files, the key findings of this dissertation are (1) racial identity is associated with socioeconomic status among Hispanics, (2) infants born to Hispanic black mothers displayed statistically significant higher odds of being born with low birth weight when compared to infants born to Hispanic white mothers, (3) there is evidence of weathering in the infant health of Hispanics, as measured using birth weight, (4) black-white disparities in the risk of infant mortality exist within the Hispanic population, (5) both Hispanic blacks and those of other races have greater odds of functional limitations than Hispanic whites and for Hispanic blacks; moreover, this disadvantage increases with age, (6) I show no race differences in the odds of hypertension or poorly self-assessed health status. In short, the results of this dissertation suggest that the social experience for Hispanic blacks and whites is different and that this difference affects health outcomes. It is imperative that future research and health policy recognize the racial heterogeneity of this population, in both empirical analyses and policy decisions regarding social influences on physical health.