Does Multiracial Matter?: A Case Study of Racial Health Disparities

Jenifer Bratter, Rice University
Bridget K. Gorman, Rice University

How do self-identified multiracial adults fit into documented patterns of racial health disparities? We assess whether the health status of adults who view themselves as multiracial is distinctive from that of adults who maintain a single race identity. Using a six-year (2001-2006) pooled sample of the nationally representative Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), we explore racial differences in self rated health between Whites and several mono- and multi-race adults with ordered logistic and binary logistic regression analyses. Our findings reveal that the health of many multi-race groups is essentially indistinguishable from Whites -- with the great exception of White-American Indians and Black-American Indians, whose self-rated health is lower than either component racial group. We also find that placing multi-race groups into a "preferred" single race category likely obscures the pattern of health disparities, as many multi-race adults identify with a group whose health experience they do not share.

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Presented in Session 99: Race, Ethnicity, Ancestry, and Caste in Demographic Measurement