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J Aging Health. 2012 Feb;24(1):141-67. doi: 10.1177/0898264311422743. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Mortality risk among Black and White working women: the role of perceived work trajectories.

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  • 1Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, MMC 729, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. tshippee@umn.edu



Drawing from cumulative inequality theory, the authors examine the relationship between perceived work trajectories and mortality risk among Black and White women over 36 years.


Panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women (1967-2003) are used to evaluate how objective and subjective elements of work shape mortality risk for Black and White women born between 1923 and 1937.


Estimates from Cox proportional hazards models reveal that Black working women manifest higher mortality risk than White working women even after accounting for occupation, personal income, and household wealth. Perceived work trajectories were also associated with mortality risk for Black women but not for White women.


The findings reveal the imprint of women's work life on mortality, especially for Black women, and illustrate the importance of considering personal meanings associated with objective work characteristics.

© The Author(s) 2012

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