Perception of racial discrimination among blacks linked to socioeconomic position

Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367

Perceived racism can affect one's health. Negative health outcomes have also been linked to a person's socioeconomic position (SEP). Individual- and neighborhood-level SEP may play a role in understanding how racial discrimination is perceived, measured, and processed, suggests a new study. The researchers investigated the relationship between neighborhood- and individual-level SEP, a neighborhood's racial composition, and perceived racial discrimination. They found that higher-educated black women reported more racial discrimination compared with their less-educated peers. However, SEP, whether on a neighborhood or individual level, did not have any impact on perceived racial discrimination among white women.

The study looked at 1,249 women, aged 40 to 79, living in Connecticut. Most (61 percent) were white, with 39 percent black. Census data helped the researchers determine neighborhood racial composition as well as the neighborhood-level SEP. Based on an individual's income, education, and occupation, the researchers also determined individual-level SEP. An interview with each woman determined the level of perceived racial discrimination from seven areas of life, including employment, medical care, school, public settings, and the police/courts.

Black women with 12 years of education or less were less likely to report racial discrimination compared with their more educated peers. However, individual-level income and occupational ranking were not associated with perceived racial discrimination. For white women, neither neighborhood-level nor individual-level SEP were significantly associated with perceived racial discrimination. In models adjusted for both neighborhood and individual SEP, neighborhood racial composition was not associated with perceived discrimination for either black or white women.

The researchers suggest that additional dimensions of racial discrimination and race-related stressors be included in future studies to fully capture the role of racism in health outcomes. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15686).

See "Neighborhood- and individual-level socioeconomic variation in perceptions of racial discrimination," by Amy B. Dailey, Ph.D., Stanislav V. Kasl, Ph.D., Theodore R. Holford, Ph.D., and others in Ethnicity & Health 15(2), pp. 145-163, 2010.

Current as of March 2011
Internet Citation: Perception of racial discrimination among blacks linked to socioeconomic position: Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/mar11/0311RA21.html