[xmca] more on the racial gap

From: David Preiss (davidpreiss@puc.cl)
Date: Fri Sep 16 2005 - 06:41:16 PDT

National study shows black immigrants' health erodes the longer they live in

Sociologists say study suggests that racial discrimination harms health

In the first national study of its kind, sociologists from Rice University
and University of California (UC)-Irvine find that black immigrants who
arrive in America from black-majority regions of the world are healthier
than those from white-majority regions; but regardless of how healthy blacks
immigrants are when they come to the U.S., the longer they stay, the more
their health erodes. The findings suggest racial discrimination is a major
cause of poor health for American blacks -- native and foreign-born alike.

Rice's Michael Emerson and UC-Irvine's Jen'nan Read examined the health of
about 3,000 black immigrants coming from the top regions of black
emigration: The Caribbean, Africa, South America and Europe. The researchers
focused on three measures of health: self-rated health, disability and

Compared to U.S.-born blacks, those born in Europe -- a majority-white
region that most closely resembles the U.S.'s racial structure -- are the
least healthy, faring no better than American-born blacks. Blacks born in
Africa and South America, where whites are the small minority, are much
healthier than U.S.-born blacks. Those born in the Caribbean, a racially
mixed region, are healthier than U.S.-born blacks but less healthy than
those from Africa and South America. According to Emerson and Read, racial
minorities are exposed to more stressful life events caused by
discrimination. Stress, a key risk factor for many ailments, accumulates
over the life course to harm health.

The study, published in the September issue of Social Forces, is the first
to look at the health of black immigrants by their region of origin. Prior
to 2000, national-level health data combined all black immigrants into a
single category, which obscured the differences among them. This study shows
the value of breaking them out as individual groups by home region.

"These findings point to the persistent black/white health gap in the United
States," said Emerson, the Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Professor of
Sociology and director of the new Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life.
"Whatever health advantage black immigrants have when they arrive is lost as
they, and then their children, become part of the U.S. racial landscape and
experience the consequences of being black in America."

Emerson and Read reported that European-born blacks' health was more similar
to American-born blacks' than to other black immigrants'. Previous studies
have shown that immigrants are healthier than their U.S. counterparts when
they come to America, primarily because of the selective nature of
immigration: those who immigrate are in good health and/or have the
financial resources to make such a move. "European countries have a much
higher standard of living than African and Caribbean countries," Emerson
said. "At the same time, the racial dynamics in many European countries are
similar to those in the U.S., and we know from studies here that blacks are
exposed to more stressful life events that have negative consequences for
their mental and physical health."

Emerson and Read noted that although this study does not provide the
definitive explanation for the black/white health gap in the U.S., it
encourages researchers and policy-makers to take a much harder look at how
racial discrimination harms health.

Primary data on health assessment for the study came from the 2000-2002
National Health Interview Surveys, which were conducted by the National
Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Additional data for the study came from the U.S. Census Bureau,
the Office of Immigration Statistics and the Central Intelligence Agency's
World Factbook.

David Preiss


Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor

Pontificia Universidad Católica de <http://www.puc.cl/> Chile

Escuela de Psicología

Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860

Macul, Santiago,


Fono: 56-2-3544605

Fax: 56-2-354-4844

E-mail: davidpreiss@puc.cl

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