Re-Examining Racial Disparities in Health: Does Nonlabor Income Explain Health Disparities Between Black and White Adults

Tod G. Hamilton , Princeton University
Fenaba Addo, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Studies have documented significant and persistent disparities in health between U.S.-born blacks and whites. These disparities hold even after accounting for measures of social and economic status, such as educational attainment, income, and poverty status. Across measures of social and economic status, wealth disparities between blacks and whites are most pronounced. Few studies, however, have examined the degree to which wealth explains racial disparities in health. Using data from the 2011–2016 March Current Population Surveys, we examine whether measures of non-labor income (e.g., investment or dividend income) help explain health disparities between U.S.-born non-Hispanic black and white adults. The results show that, even after accounting for traditional measures of social and economic status, non-labor income accounts for a significant share of the gap in self-assessed health between non-Hispanic blacks and whites. Our findings highlight the role of wealth in understanding racial disparities in health.

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 Presented in Session 52. Flash Session: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Health