Black-White Differences in Health and Mortality among the Older Divorced

Sarah A. Avellar, University of Michigan

Past research has shown that for the overall population, divorce has less deleterious consequences on the health of blacks compared to their white counterparts. However, the effects on younger respondents will dominate research that contains all age groups. In contrast, extant research on the older divorced population suggests that in comparison to whites, divorce may be worse for blacks. Conclusions are difficult to draw because of the use of race as a first-order control variable. This paper builds on past research by allowing race to have both direct and indirect associations with health and mortality. The results suggest that divorce is associated with poorer health and higher mortality for both blacks and whites; however, socioeconomic status appears to explain this entire association. Though the link between divorce and health is not statistically different for the two races, the relationship between socioeconomic status and health does vary for blacks and whites.

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Presented in Session 37: Race, Health, and Mortality I