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Racial disparities in the cognition-health relationship

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  • Thompson, Owen

Abstract

This paper investigates how the association between cognitive achievement and self-rated health in middle age differs by race, and attempts to explain these differences. The role of cognition in health determination has received only limited empirical attention, and even less is known about how race may affect this relationship. Using data from the NLSY, I find that while Whites with higher cognitive achievement scores tend to report substantially better general health, this relationship is far weaker or wholly absent among Blacks. Further tests suggest that about 35% of this racial difference can be explained by behavioral decisions during adulthood, and that another portion of the disparity may trace back to prenatal and early childhood experiences. The paper closes by noting that its results are broadly consistent with explanations of the racial health gap that emphasize entrenched forms of racial discrimination.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 328-339

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:328-339

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Cognition Health Race AFQT Birth weight;

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References

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  1. M. Christopher Auld & Nirmal Sidhu, 2005. "Schooling, cognitive ability and health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(10), pages 1019-1034.
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  11. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding Differences in Health Behaviors by Education," Scholarly Articles 5344195, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  13. William Rodgers & William Spriggs, 1996. "What does the AFQT really measure: Race, wages, schooling and the AFQT score," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 13-46, June.
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  16. Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Michelle S. Goeree & John C. Ham & Daniela Iorio, 2011. "Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa," Working Papers 2011-034, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  2. Goeree, Michelle S. & Ham, John C. & Iorio, Daniela, 2011. "Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa," IZA Discussion Papers 5823, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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