Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Catherine Berheide

Keywords

health, racial inequality, racial residential segregation, residential segregation, self-reported health

Abstract

How does context influence health? County racial composition and racial residential segregation shape health outcomes by creating different contexts that influence access to health-related resources. White Americans disproportionately possess these material and intangible resources. Therefore, I propose that the higher the percent of non-Hispanic white residents in U.S. counties, and the higher the racial residential segregation in U.S. counties, the lower the percent of adult residents who report poor or fair health in U.S. counties. To explore these hypotheses, I analyze 2014 demographic and survey data from 2946 U.S. counties. Findings provide mixed support for my hypotheses. Percent white has a significant inverse relationship with county self-reported health. Controlling for median household income, access to health insurance and primary care physicians, and rurality, the higher the percent of white residents, the lower the percent of residents reporting poor or fair health in U.S. counties. However, the dissimilarity index has no significant relationship with the dependent variable. In both models, control variables of median household income, access to health insurance and primary care physicians, and rurality are significantly linked to self-reported health. These results suggest that the control and distribution of material (economic and political) and intangible (social and cultural) resources is key to predicting health outcomes. The concentration of resources in white communities is a critical aspect of maintaining structures of institutional racism. Changing the control and distribution of these resources will be key to overcoming widespread racial health disparities and other pervasive forms of structural racial inequality.

DOI

10.17605/OSF.IO/9HCZW