Racial and Ethnic Origins, Nativity and the Cognitive Health Trajectories of U.S. Older Adults

Margaret M. Weden, RAND Corporation
Jeremy Miles, RAND Corporation
Jose Escarce, University of California, Los Angeles and RAND Corporation
Esther M. Friedman, RAND Corporation
Regina Shih, RAND Corporation

Research on social disparities in cognitive aging rarely addresses both racial and ethnic origins and nativity. Even less is known about the potential role of neighborhood sociocultural and socioeconomic conditions in explaining any observed immigrant health advantages and racial/ethnic health disadvantages on cognition. Using data from the Health and Retirement Survey linked with the 2000 Census, we observe both cognitive health advantages among foreign-born Mexican Americans and cognitive health disadvantages among non-Hispanic black and Mexican American US-natives, after adjusting for individual social and economic characteristics. Models that additionally adjust for residence in immigrant enclaves or impoverished communities support the role of neighborhood characteristics in racial/ethnic health disadvantages but not immigrant health advantages on cognition. We discuss our findings in the context of current and future demographic and public health trends in the US.

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Presented in Session 136: Health Disparities among U.S. Hispanic and Immigrant Populations