Caste and Hypertension in India: Examining the Differential Effect of Socioeconomic Status

Jalal Uddin , University of Alabama at Birmingham
Sanjeev Acharya, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Jessica Valles, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Elizabeth H. Baker, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Caste, as a social segregation measure, is associated with adverse health outcomes in India. A growing body of literature suggests that lower-caste groups have a disproportionate burden of adult and child mortality and self-reported poor health. However, it is not clear to what extent indicators of socioeconomic status (SES), such as wealth, occupation, and education act as protective factors for lower-caste groups. Building on fundamental cause theory, we examine the association of SES and hypertension among adult women across four major caste groups. This study used data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16, India. We used caste-segregated logistic regression models controlling for potential confounders. Findings suggest that within disadvantaged caste groups, scheduled tribes have the highest odds of hypertension. Caste-segregated models indicate education and wealth index is protective only for advantaged caste groups. This study has important policy implications for population health interventions to reduce caste-based health inequalities in India.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity