Does health predict the reporting of racial discrimination or do reports of discrimination predict health? Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth

Soc Sci Med. 2009 May;68(9):1676-84. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.02.002. Epub 2009 Mar 14.


Racial discrimination may contribute to diminished well-being, possibly through stress and restricted economic advancement. Our study examines whether reports of racial discrimination predict health problems, and whether health problems predict the reporting of racial discrimination. Data come from years 1979 to 1983 of the US National Longitudinal Study of Youth, focusing on respondents of Black (n=1851), Hispanic (n=1170), White (n=3450) and other (n=1387) descent. Our analyses indicate that reports of racial discrimination in seeking employment predict health-related work limitations, although these limitations develop over time, and not immediately. We also find that reports of discrimination at two time-points appear more strongly related to health-related work limitations than reports at one time-point. A key finding is that these limitations do not predict the subsequent reporting of racial discrimination in seeking employment. These findings inform our knowledge of the temporal ordering of racial discrimination in seeking employment and health-related work conditions among young adults. The findings also indicate that future research should carefully attend to the patterns and timing of discrimination.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Black or African American
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Occupational Health
  • Prejudice*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United States
  • White People
  • Young Adult