Ethnicity, Acculturation and Self-Assessed Health among Retirement-Aged and Older Adults

Ann D. Bagchi, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Using data from the California Health Interview Survey, this study documents significant racial/ethnic variation in self-reported health among adults aged 51 and older and examines numerous sets of factors thought likely to account for the observed patterns. Specifically, the study considers physical health, functional status, lifestyle and preventive measures, social support, mental health, and acculturation variables as predictors of ethnic variation in self-rated health. The author finds that acculturation, particularly English language ability, accounts for much of the variation found between whites and some Latino and Asian groups but that none of the individual sets of factors nor the entire set of predictors sufficiently accounts for much great likelihood of reporting fair or poor health status among Mexican origin and African American respondents when compared with whites. The findings support inclusion of more cultural measures in studies of self-reported health and suggest a need for further into persistent ethnic differences.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology