Occupational Demography and Health Status: Is Job Segregation Bad for Your Health?

Terceira A. Berdahl, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), DHHS

Racial-ethnic disparities in health status are well documented (IOM 2002, DHHS 1999), but the role of occupational racial-ethnic segregation and hazardous job exposures remain relatively unexplored. Racial-ethnic health disparities may reflect exposure to hazardous work environments that are associated with poor health status. This analysis explores associations between job segregation, occupational skill levels, occupational physical demands, occupational environmental exposures and health status. This study uses individual level data from the 2002 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and occupation level data from detailed US Census (2000) and the Occupational Information Network (O*Net 14.0). Preliminary models show that occupation-level demographic variables are significant predictors of both physical and mental health outcomes, although the patterns of associations are unique for each outcome. The percentage of black workers in occupations is associated with greater odds of reporting fair/poor physical health. Physically demanding occupations are protective for self-rated mental health, but not for physical health.

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Presented in Poster Session 3