Race and Mortality: The Role of Socioeconomic Status in Determining Racial Differentials in Age-Specific Mortality

Quincy Stewart, Indiana University

Two of the most popular topics in contemporary demography are the mortality differentials across race and socioeconomic groups. The general findings of this body of research indicates that blacks suffer from higher mortality than whites, and individuals with low socioeconomic status are subject to higher mortality risks than their high socioeconomic status counterparts. Although the proximate determinants of these differentials remain vague, there is a clear interconnection between the mortality differentials across racial groups and those across socioeconomic groups. Specifically, race differences in socioeconomic status are associated with a significant portion of racial differentials in health and mortality. It is unclear, however, if the role of socioeconomic status in producing racial mortality differentials varies across the life course. In this paper I analyze the role of socioeconomic status in explaining racial differentials in age-specific mortality. I find that the explanatory power of socioeconomic status systematically varies across working ages.

Presented in Session 118: African American Mortality and Health