As the population of older Americans grows, it is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Differences in health by racial and ethnic status could be increasingly consequential for health policy and programs. Such differences are are not simply a matter of education or ability to pay for health care. For instance, Asian Americans and Hispanics appear to be in better health, on a number of indicators, than White Americans, despite, on average, lower socioeconomic status. The reasons are complex, including possible roles for such factors as selective migration, risk behaviors, exposure to various stressors, patient attitudes, and geographic variation in health care.
This volume, produced by a multidisciplinary panel, considers such possible explanations for racial and ethnic health differentials within an integrated framework. It provides a concise summary of available research and lays out a research agenda to address the many uncertainties in current knowledge. It recommends, for instance, looking at health differentials across the life course and deciphering the links between factors presumably producing differentials and biopsychosocial mechanisms that lead to impaired health.