Asians and Pacific Islanders have the lowest infant-mortality rates, probably because, although a diverse group, they do better economically, on average There is evidence to suggest that racism in day-to-day life contributes to differences in health in several ways o Blacks are disproportionately poor in the United States, and being poor can be very stressful One theory is that it is precisely the mismatch—the incongruity between what people assume their economic status to be, based on stereotypes, and what it actually is—that elevates stress levels African Americans are more likely to be the victims of both overt and subtle forms of prejudice Although specific acts, such as a violent attack, could clearly affect someone’s health, so could the gradual accumulation of more minor injustices in the form of stress and high blood pressure, not to mention racism’s psychological impacts Socioeconomic Status More highly educated people enjoy longer life expectancies on average, and a number of straightforward explanations exist Higher educated people behave differently from people with less education People with a college education smoke less, eat more healthily, and exercise more often Perhaps their overall better health contributed to their high levels of educational attainment There are 3 main theories that attempt to explain this association: o 1. Selection Theory : states that the relationship between lower income and higher morbidity is spurious (false, or not really causal) because other factors such as genetics and biology affect both health and SES R V CHAPTER 11: HEALTH AND SOCIETY
o 2. Drift Explanation : asserts that reverse causality exists—that health causes social position (as in the education example above) Logic behind argument: If you don’t have good health, you may not be able to work, so higher morbidity would result in lower SES o 3. Social Determinants Theory: states that social status position determines health Being of a lower income level or SES causes higher morbidity and lower general health. What are the factors that could make this happen? There are 3 general schools of thought for answering this question: o 1. The psychological interpretation focuses on the individuals’ social status relative to that of those around them o 2. The second theory, the materialist interpretation, asserts that the differential access to a healthy life—including all monetary, psychological, and environmental risk factors—is a result of socioeconomic factors o 3. The final theory seeking to explain how higher SES causes lower mortality is called the fundamental causes interpretation which focuses on how social factors shape illness and health in order to understand the pervasive link between SES and health By today’s standards, during the 1950s and 1960s, poor people ate a healthier diet than rich people The moment new health information became available, it was the high-SES individuals
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- Spring '08
- Health and Society