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Ethn Dis. 2008 Autumn;18(4):496-504.

Using "socially assigned race" to probe white advantages in health status.

Author information

1
Division of Adult and Community Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Mailstop K-67, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA. cdj9@cdc.gov

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We explore the relationships between socially assigned race ("How do other people usually classify you in this country?"), self-identified race/ethnicity, and excellent or very good general health status. We then take advantage of subgroups which are discordant on self-identified race/ethnicity and socially assigned race to examine whether being classified by others as White conveys an advantage in health status, even for those who do not self-identify as White.

METHODS:

Analyses were conducted using pooled data from the eight states that used the Reactions to Race module of the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

RESULTS:

The agreement of socially assigned race with self-identified race/ethnicity varied across the racial/ethnic groups currently defined by the United States government. Included among those usually classified by others as White were 26.8% of those who self-identified as Hispanic, 47.6% of those who self-identified as American Indian, and 59.5% of those who self-identified with More than one race. Among those who self-identified as Hispanic, the age-, education-, and language-adjusted proportion reporting excellent or very good health was 8.7 percentage points higher for those socially assigned as White than for those socially assigned as Hispanic (P=.04); among those who self-identified as American Indian, that proportion was 15.4 percentage points higher for those socially assigned as White than for those socially assigned as American Indian (P=.05); and among those who self-identified with More than one race, that proportion was 23.6 percentage points higher for those socially assigned as White than for those socially assigned as Black (P<.01). On the other hand, no significant differences were found between those socially assigned as White who self-identified as White and those socially assigned as White who self-identified as Hispanic, as American Indian, or with More than one race.

CONCLUSIONS:

Being classified by others as White is associated with large and statistically significant advantages in health status, no matter how one self-identifies.

PMID:
19157256
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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