Racialized identity and health in Canada: results from a nationally representative survey

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Aug;69(4):538-42. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.06.009. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


This article uses survey data to investigate health effects of racialization in Canada. The operative sample was comprised of 91,123 Canadians aged 25 and older who completed the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey. A "racial and cultural background" survey question contributed a variable that differentiated respondents who identified with Aboriginal, Black, Chinese, Filipino, Latin American, South Asian, White, or jointly Aboriginal and White racial/cultural backgrounds. Indicators of diabetes, hypertension and self-rated health were used to assess health. The healthy immigrant effect suppressed some disparity in risk for diabetes by racial/cultural identification. In logistic regression models also containing gender, age, and immigrant status, no racial/cultural identifications corresponded with significantly better health outcomes than those reported by survey respondents identifying as White. Subsequent models indicated that residential locale did little to explain the associations between racial/cultural background and health and that socioeconomic status was only implicated in relatively poor health outcomes for respondents identifying as Aboriginal or Aboriginal/White. Sizable and statistically significant relative risks for poor health for respondents identifying as Aboriginal, Aboriginal/White, Black, Chinese, or South Asian remained unexplained by the models, suggesting that other explanations for health disparities by racialized identity in Canada - perhaps pertaining to experiences with institutional racism and/or the wear and tear of experiences of racism and discrimination in everyday life - also deserve empirical investigation in this context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / ethnology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Identification*
  • Socioeconomic Factors