CitationDeAngelis, R. T.; Hargrove, T. W.; & Hummer, R. A. (2022). Skin Tone and the Health Returns to Higher Status. Demography.
AbstractThis study addresses two questions. First, why do Black Americans exhibit worse health outcomes than White Americans even at higher levels of socioeconomic status (SES)? Second, are diminished health returns to higher status concentrated among Black Americans with darker skin color? Novel hypotheses are tested with biosocial panel data from Add Health, a nationally representative cohort of Black and White adolescents who have transitioned to adulthood. We find that White and light-skin Black respondents report improved health after achieving higher SES, on average, while their darker-skin Black peers report declining health. These patterns persist regardless of controls for adolescent health status and unmeasured between-person heterogeneity. Moreover, increased inflammation tied to unfair treatment and perceptions of lower status helps to account for patterns of diminished health returns for dark-skin Black groups. Our study is the first to document skin tone heterogeneity in diminished health returns and one of few studies to identify life course stress processes underlying such disparities. We consider additional processes that could be examined in future studies, as well as the broader health and policy implications of our findings.
Reference TypeJournal Article
Author(s)DeAngelis, R. T.
Hargrove, T. W.
Hummer, R. A.