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The association of subjective social status and health in low-income Mexican-origin individuals in Texas


  • Franzini, Luisa
  • Fernandez-Esquer, Maria Eugenia


There is only limited research on subjective social status (SSS) and its effect on health in general and in minority US populations in particular. This study first investigates the determinants of SSS and the relationship between SSS and objective social status. It then explores the relationships of SSS to self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, and self-rated health (SRH). The study population consists of Mexican-origin individuals living in low-income neighborhoods in Texas and grouped into acculturation categories based on nativity and use of the Spanish language. We also investigate the role of reference groups. Results indicate that there is no disjuncture between subjective and objective status in this population but that the less acculturated groups rank their social status based on different criteria than the more acculturated. People compare themselves mainly with those similar to them and average subjective status in the different acculturation groups accurately reflects the objective status of the group. Sociocultural factors, in particular perceived differences in opportunities, explain differences between subjective and objective status. Subjective status was associated with all health outcomes. When controlling for objective status, subjective status was associated with mental health and SRH but not with physical health. Objective status indicators were consistently associated with all health outcomes, indicating the prominence of objective socioeconomic status in affecting health in this low-income minority population. Sociocultural characteristics appear to mediate the effect of SSS on health. In particular, perceived victimization might mediate the effect of SSS on mental health.

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  • Franzini, Luisa & Fernandez-Esquer, Maria Eugenia, 2006. "The association of subjective social status and health in low-income Mexican-origin individuals in Texas," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 788-804, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:63:y:2006:i:3:p:788-804

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kawachi, I. & Kennedy, B.P. & Glass, R., 1999. "Social capital and self-rated health: A contextual analysis," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 89(8), pages 1187-1193.
    2. Singh-Manoux, Archana & Adler, Nancy E. & Marmot, Michael G., 2003. "Subjective social status: its determinants and its association with measures of ill-health in the Whitehall II study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1321-1333, March.
    3. Kawachi, I. & Kennedy, B.P. & Lochner, K. & Prothrow-Stith, D., 1997. "Social capital, income inequality, and mortality," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 87(9), pages 1491-1498.
    4. Franzini, Luisa & Fernandez-Esquer, Maria Eugenia, 2004. "Socioeconomic, cultural, and personal influences on health outcomes in low income Mexican-origin individuals in Texas," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(8), pages 1629-1646, October.
    5. Michael Hagerty & Ruut Veenhoven, 2003. "Wealth and Happiness Revisited – Growing National Income Does Go with Greater Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 64(1), pages 1-27, October.
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