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Am J Public Health. 2006 Jul;96(7):1152-9. Epub 2006 May 30.

Minority group status and healthful aging: social structure still matters.

Author information

  • 1School of Public Affairs and Department of Sociology, Population Research Center, University of Texas, Austin 78713-8925, USA. jangel@mail.utexas.edu


During the last 4 decades, a rapid increase has occurred in the number of survey-based and epidemiological studies of the health profiles of adults in general and of the causes of disparities between majority and minority Americans in particular. According to these studies, healthful aging consists of the absence of disease, or at least of the most serious preventable diseases and their consequences, and findings consistently reveal serious African American and Hispanic disadvantages in terms of healthful aging. We (1) briefly review conceptual and operational definitions of race and Hispanic ethnicity, (2) summarize how ethnicity-based differentials in health are related to social structures, and (3) emphasize the importance of attention to the economic, political, and institutional factors that perpetuate poverty and undermine healthful aging among certain groups.

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