Advertisement

Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health: Environmental, Psychosocial, and Physiological Pathways

  • Burton Singer
  • Carol Ryff

Abstract

In Chapter 13 of the Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray (H&M) note that “ethnic differences in cognitive ability are neither surprising nor in doubt.”1 This is largely true. What is not so obvious is (1) the causes of such differences, (2) their immutability, and (3) the consequences of ethnic and racial differences in cognitive ability. H&M argue that the causes are largely genetic, that cognitive ability is more or less fixed over an individual’s lifetime, and that it effects a wide array of social consequences, ranging from unemployment to family income, etc. There are, of course, alternative explanations for ethnic and racial differences in cognitive ability and for their consequences. H&M’s favorite statistical tool of multiple regression is not the only way to explore such values. In this chapter we offer an alternative approach focused on health outcomes, and we demonstrate how nongenetic biological, environmental, and social pathways can explain much of the racial and ethnic differences.

Keywords

Racial Difference Allostatic Load Physiological Substrate Ethnic Inequality Psychosocial Adversity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Herrnstein, R., and Murray, C. (1994), The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, The Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    WHO, (1983), Apartheid and Health, Geneva, World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Williams, D. (1990), “Socioeconomic Differentials in Health: A Review and Redirection,” Social Psychology Quarterly, 53, 81–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Williams, D., and Collins, C. (1995), “U.S. Socioeconomic and Racial Differences in Health: Patterns and Explanations,” Annual Review of Sociology, 21,349–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Berkman, L., Singer, B., and Manton, K.G. (1989), ¡°Black/White Differences in Health Status and Mortality Among the Elderly,“ Demography, 26, 661–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Huntley, J.C., Brock, D.B., Ostfeld, A.M., Taylo, J.O., and Wallace, R.B. (1986), Established Populationsfor Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly: Resource Data Book, U.S. Government Printing Office (NIH Pub. No. 86–2443), Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ware, J.E. (1986), “The Assessment of Health Status,” in L.H.Aiken and D. Mechanic (Eds.), Applications of Social Science to Clinical Medicine and Health Policy, 9th ed., Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Collins, T.F.B. (1982), “The History of Southern Africa’s First Tuberculosis Epidemic,” South African Medical Journal, 62, 780–788.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Dubos, R J., and Dubos, J. (1953), The White Plague: Tuberculosis, Man, and Society, Victor Gollancz Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Packard, R.M. (1989), White Plague, Black Labor: Tuberculosis and the Political Economy of Health and Disease in South Africa, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    City of Capetown, (1979), Annual Report of the Medical Of, Jüer for Health, Capetown, South Africa.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Legassick, M., and deClerq, F. (1978), Capitalism and Migrant Labor in Southern Africa: The Origin and Nature of the System, ILO-ECA Conference on Migrant Labor in Southern Africa, April.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wilson, F. (1980), “Suggested Directions for the Future,” in SAIRR, Towards Economic and Political Justice in South Africa, South African Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    SAIRR. (1977), Survey of Race Relations, South African Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Acevedo-Garcia, D. (1996), Has Residential Segregation Shaped the Epidemiology of Tuberculosis among US Minorities? The Case of New Jersey, 1985–1992. Doctoral Dissertation, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Commission on Racial Justice, United Church of Christ. (1987), Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States, Public Data Access, Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mohai, P., and Bryant, B. (1992), “Environmental Racism: Reviewing the Evidence,” in B. Bryant and P. Mohai (Eds.), Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ciesielski, S., Esposito, D., Protiva, J., and Piehl, M. (1994), “The Incidence of Tuberculosis among North Carolina Migrant Farm Workers, 1991,” American journal of Public Health, 84, 1836–1838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ryff, C.D., and Singer, B. (1997), The Contours of Positive Human Health,Psychological Inquiry (in press)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hauser, R.M., Sewell, W.H., Logan, J.A., Hauser, T, Ryff, C., Caspi, A., and McDonald, M. (1992), The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study: Adults as Parents and Children at Age 50, CDE Working Paper 92–2, University of Wisconsin, Center for Demography and Ecology.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sewell, WH, and Hauser, R.M. (1980), “The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study of Social and Psychological Factors in Aspirations and Achievements,” in A.C. Kerckhoff (Ed.), Research in Sociology and Education, 1, JAI Press, Greenwich, CT, PP. 59–99.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sewell, W.H., and Shah, V.P. (1967), “Socioeconomic Status, Intelligence, and the Attainment of Higher Education,” Sociology of Education, 40 (Winter), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Carr, D., Ryff, C.D., Singer, B., and Magee, W. (1996), Life Histories and Mental Health, Technical Report, Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Adler, N.E., Boyce, T, Chesney, M., Folkman, S., and Syme, L. (1993), “Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health: No Easy Solution,” Journal of American Medical Association, 269, 3140–3145. Adler, N.E., Boyce, T, Chesney, M., Cohen, S., Folk-man, S., Kahn, R.L., and Syme, L. (1994), “Socioeconomic Status and Health: The Challenge of the Gradient,” American Psychologist, 49, 3140–3145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    McEwen, B.S., and Schmeck, H.M., Jr. (1994), The Hostage Brain, Rockefeller University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lazarus, R.S., and Folkman, S. (1984), Stress, Appraisal, and Coping, Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Pearlin, L., and Schooler, C. (1978), “The Structure of Coping,”Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 19, 2–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Thoits, P.A. (1994), “Stresses and Problem-Solving: The Individual as a Psychological Activist,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 34, 143–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    House, J., Kessler, R.C., Herzog, A.R., Mero, R.P., Kinney, A.M., and Breslow, MJ. (1992), “Social Stratification, Age, and Health,” in K.W. Schaie,.D. Blazer, and J.S. House (Eds.),Aging, Health Behaviors, and Health Outcomes, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 1–31.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Weisfeld, G.E. (1980), “Social Dominance and Human Motivation,” in D.R. Omark, F.F. Strayer, and D.G. Freedman (Eds.), Dominance Relations: An Ethological View of Human Conflict and Social Interaction, Garland Press, New York.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Wright, R. (1994), The Moral Animal: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Pantheon Books, New York.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wethington, E., and Kessler, R.C. (1986), “Perceived Support, Received Support and Adjustment to Stressful Life Events,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 208–229.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Wheaton, B. (1985), “Models for the Stress-Buffering Functions of Coping Resources,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 26, 352–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Newman, K. (1988), Falling from Grace: The Experience of Downward Mobility in the American Middle Class, New York: Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ragin, C. (1987), The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tilly, C. (1984), Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons, Russell Sage Foundation, New York.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ryff, C.D., (1989), “Happiness Is Everything, or Is It?: Explorations on the Meaning of Psychological Well-Being,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57,1069–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ryff, C.D., and Keyes, C.L.M. (1995), “The Structure of Psychological Well-Being Revisited,” Journal of Personaliv and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Mathabane, M. (1986), Kaffir Boy, Plume, Penguin Books, New York.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Wadsworth, M.EJ. (1986), “Serious Illness in Childhood and its Association with Later-Life Achievement,” in R.G.Wilkinson (Ed.), Class and Health: Research and Longitudinal Data, Tavistock Publications, London, pp. 50–74.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Weiner, H. (1992), Perturbing the Organism: The Biology of Stressful Experience, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Harburg, E., Erfurt, J.C. Hauenstein, L.S., Chape, C., Schull, W.J., and Schork, M.A. (1973), “Socio-ecological Stress, Suppressed Hostility, Skin Color, and Black-White Male Blood Pressure: Detroit,” Psychosomatic Medicine, 35, 276–296.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Copeland, D.D. (1977), “Concepts of Disease and Diagnosis,” Perspectives on Biology and Medicine, 20, 528–538.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Sapolsky, R.M. (1994), Why Zebras Don’t Get Ukers: A Guide to Stress-Related Diseases and Coping, W.H. Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Maier, S.F. Watkins, L.R., and Fleshner, M. (1994), “Psychoneuroimmunology: The Interface Between Behavior, Brain, and Immunity,” American Psychologist, 49, 1004–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    McEwen, B.S., and Stellar, E. (1993), “Stress and the Individual.”ArchivesofInternal Medicine, 153, 2093–2101. Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Seeman, T, Singer, B., Horwitz, R.I., and McEwen, B. (1996), Operationalizing Allostatic Load, Manuscript, Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Seeman, T, Charpentier, E, Berkman, L., Tinetti, M., Guralnik, J., Albert, M., Blazer, D., and Rowe, J. (1994), “Predicting Changes in Physical Performance in a High Functioning Elderly Cohort,” MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging, Journal of Gerontology, 49, M97–M108.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    McKinnon, W, Weisse, C.S., Reynolds, C.P., Bowles, C.A., and Baum, A. (1989), “Chronic Stress, Leukocyte Sub-populations, and Humoral Response to Latent Viruses,” Health Psychology, 8, 389–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Kielcolt-Glaser, J.K., Glaser, R., Gravenstein, S., Malarkey, W.B., and Sheridan, J. (1996), “Chronic Stress Alters the Immune Response to Influenza Virus Vaccine in Older Adults,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 93, 3043–3047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Fisher, L.D., Ogrocki, P., Stout, J.C., Speicher, C.E., and Glaser, R. (1987), “Marital Quality, Marital Disruption, and Immune Function,” Psychosomatic Medicine, 49, 13–25.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Thomas, P.D., Goodwin, J.M., and Goodwin, J.S. (1985), “Effect of Social Support on Stress-Related Changes in Cholesterol Level, Uric Acid Level, and Immune Function in an Elderly Sample,” American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 735-737.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Cohen, S., and Herbert, T (1996), “Health Psychology: Psychological Factors and Physical Disease from the Perspective of Human Psychoneuroimmunology,” Annual Reviews of Psychology, 47, 113–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Neel, J. (1994), Are Genetic Factors Involved in Ethnic Differences in Late-Life Health? Paper presented for Workshop on Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life in the US, December 12–13,1994, Committee on Population, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Lifton, R.P. (1995), “Genetic Determinants of Human Hypertension,” Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA, 92, 8545–8551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Burke, W. and Motulsky, A.G. (1990), “Hypertension,” in R.A. King, J.I. Rotter, and A.G. Motulsky, (Eds.), The Genetic Basis of Common Diseases, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 170–191.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Julius, S., and Jammerson, K. (1994), “Sympathetics, Insulin Resistance and Coronary Risk in Hyptertension: The `Chicken and Egg’ Question,” Journal of Hypertension, 12, 495–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Lopes, A.A.S., Port, F.K., James, S.A., and Agodoa, L. (1993), “The Excess Risk of Treated End-Stage Renal Disease in Blacks in the United States,” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 3, 1961–1971. Lopes, A.A.S., Hornbuckle, K., James, S.A., and Port, F.K. (1994), “The Joint Effects of Race and Age on the Risk of End-Stage Renal Disease Attributed to Hypertension,” American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 24, 1961–1971.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., and Cavalli-Sforza, E (1995), The Great Human Diasporas, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Finch, C.E. (1996), “Biological Bases for Plasticity During Aging of Individual Life Histories,” in D. Magnusson (Ed.), The Lifespan Development oflndividuals: Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives, a Synthesis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 488–512.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Finch, C.E., and Rose, M.R. (1995), “Hormones and the Physiological Architecture of Life-history Evolution,” Quarterly Review of Biology, 70, 1–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burton Singer
  • Carol Ryff

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations