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Racial Disparities in the Cognition-Health Relationship

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  • Owen Thompson

    ()
    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

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. JEL Categories:

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics in its series UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers with number 2011-02.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2011-02

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Keywords: Cognition; Health; Race; AFQT; Birth Weight;

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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  2. Nepomnyaschy, Lenna, 2010. "Race disparities in low birth weight in the U.S. south and the rest of the nation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 684-691, March.
  3. Kenkel, D.S., 1988. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, And Schooling," Papers 10-88-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
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  5. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, Kathleen, 2003. "The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 826, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding differences in health behaviors by education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, January.
  7. Michael Baker & Mark Stabile & Catherine Deri, 2004. "What Do Self-Reported, Objective, Measures of Health Measure?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  8. 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..
  9. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  11. M. Christopher Auld & Nirmal Sidhu, 2004. "Schooling, cognitive ability, and health," HEW 0405005, EconWPA.
  12. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Susanne Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the technology of cognitive and noncognitive skill formation," CeMMAP working papers CWP09/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  13. Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A. & Hatton, Timothy J. & Martin, Richard M., 2007. "Childhood Economic Conditions and Length of Life: Evidence from the UK Boyd Orr Cohort, 1937–2005," IZA Discussion Papers 3042, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. James J. Heckman, 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," NBER Working Papers 13195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Hartog, Joop & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1998. "Health, wealth and happiness: why pursue a higher education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 245-256, June.
  16. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding Differences in Health Behaviors by Education," Scholarly Articles 5344195, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. 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.
  18. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, octubre-d.
  19. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Michelle S. Goeree & John C. Ham & Daniela Iorio, 2012. "Race, social class, and bulimia nervosa," ECON - Working Papers 086, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  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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