Is Self-Rated Health Comparable across Racial and Ethnic Groups? Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Dejun Su, University of Texas-Pan American
Kyriakos S. Markides, University of Texas Medical Branch

Whereas previous studies have established the validity of SRH as a health measure as well as a predictor of prospective mortality, few studies have assessed the comparability of SRH across racial and ethnic groups. By using the short- and long-term all-cause mortality as a yardstick for retrospective health, this study assesses the differential perceptions of health status, as reflected by SRH, among whites, blacks, and Hispanics who participated in the Health and Retirement Study in 1992 and who were followed till 2008. The results indicate that Hispanics tend to rate their health much more negatively than whites and blacks of similar health status. This finding holds regardless of the incorporation of related variables on demographics, nativity, socioeconomic status, and anthropometry. Thus, SRH, as a global measure of health status, is not valid to be used as an indicator of health disparities between Hispanics and other racial and ethnic groups.

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Presented in Session 121: Emerging Puzzles in Self-Rated Health