Midlife health of African-American women: cumulative disadvantage as a predictor of early senescence

Social Inequalities, Health and Health Care Delivery

ISBN: 978-0-76230-957-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-172-9

ISSN: 0275-4959

Publication date: 13 November 2002


The intersection of race and gender present challenges to the studies of aging and life course. The higher rates of African-American women experiencing functional limitation in old age is but one example of disparity between black and white women during the aging process. This paper is an exploration of the relationship among, race, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and health. Functional limitation that leads to disablement is used as the marker of health among African-American women at midlife. The National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) provides the data to identify partially the relationship among present health status, lifestyle, and patterns of successful aging. In fact, preliminary findings from a MIDUS data analysis indicate that when controlling for age, SES, and self-rated health, black women have more limitations than do white women. It is hypothesized that as a consequence of limited opportunity, differing social structure and history, African-American women at midlife are more likely than their white counterparts to demonstrate patterns of health behavior that adversely affect the aging experience.


Combs, Y. (2002), "Midlife health of African-American women: cumulative disadvantage as a predictor of early senescence", Jacobs Kronenfeld, J. (Ed.) Social Inequalities, Health and Health Care Delivery (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 123-135. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0275-4959(02)80010-2

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Copyright © 2002, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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