New Health Events and the Origin of Educational and Racial Inequalities in Health Behaviors

Elaine Hernandez, University of Texas at Austin

Using advances in health information or treatment as an exogenous shock, scholars have begun to analyze the emergence of socioeconomic differences in health behaviors and outcomes. Results indicate that socially advantaged individuals are better positioned to avoid health risks when they encounter new health information, particularly when they are required to follow complex treatment regimens. We build on this line of inquiry by employing new illness diagnoses to test whether people change their behaviors differently depending on their socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity. Our findings have the potential to sharpen our theoretical perspectives on the origins of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequalities in health.

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Presented in Session 110: Race, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Health and Mortality