Does Perceived Discrimination Account for the “Relative Deprivation” Explanation of the Mortality SES Gradient?

Salvador Rivas, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Beatriz Novak, University of Wisconsin at Madison

The relative deprivation hypothesis is one of the frameworks used to explain SES differentials in health and mortality. One of the arguments of this hypothesis is that people compare themselves with their peers in better-off SES strata, and this produces stress and anxiety that translate into deleterious health. In this paper, we contend that self-perceived discrimination might be a way people have to express how they view this comparison, and therefore, perceived discrimination might explain SES differentials. We use data from the MIDUS study, which has an innovative scale to measure perceived discrimination. Mortality of first wave respondents has been followed up by linkage to the National Death Index. We will analyze whether SES differentials are changed after controlling for perceived discrimination, or the interaction of this perceived discrimination with SES variables. Preliminary results indicate that perceived discrimination has a weak association with mortality, but only among younger age adults.

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Presented in Session 11: Explanations for SES Gradients in Adult Health/Mortality