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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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  • Thompson, Owen, 2011. "Racial disparities in the cognition-health relationship," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 328-339, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:328-339
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    Cited by:

    1. Goeree, Michelle S. & Ham, John C. & Iorio, Daniela, 2011. "Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa," IZA Discussion Papers 5823, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Robert Kaestner & Kevin Callison, 2011. "Adolescent Cognitive and Noncognitive Correlates of Adult Health," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 29-69.
    3. Yuriy Pylypchuk & James B. Kirby, 2017. "The role of marriage in explaining racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care for men in the US," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 807-832, September.
    4. Deshpande, Ashwini & Ramachandran, Rajesh, 2022. "Early childhood stunting and later life outcomes: A longitudinal analysis," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).

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