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Do wealth disparities contribute to health disparities within racial/ethnic groups?
  1. Craig Evan Pollack1,
  2. Catherine Cubbin2,
  3. Ayesha Sania3,
  4. Mark Hayward2,
  5. Donna Vallone4,
  6. Brian Flaherty5,
  7. Paula A Braveman6
  1. 1Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  3. 3Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4American Legacy Foundation, Washington, DC, USA
  5. 5University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  6. 6University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Craig Evan Pollack, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2024 E. Monument Street, Rm 2-521, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA; cpollac2{at}


Background Though wide disparities in wealth have been documented across racial/ethnic groups, it is largely unknown whether differences in wealth are associated with health disparities within racial/ethnic groups.

Methods Data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (2004, ages 25–64) and the Health and Retirement Survey (2004, ages 50+), containing a wide range of assets and debts variables, were used to calculate net worth (a standard measure of wealth). Among non-Hispanic black, Hispanic and non-Hispanic white populations, we tested whether wealth was associated with self-reported poor/fair health status after accounting for income and education.

Results Except among the younger Hispanic population, net worth was significantly associated with poor/fair health status within each racial/ethnic group in both data sets. Adding net worth attenuated the association between education and poor/fair health (in all racial/ethnic groups) and between income and poor/fair health (except among older Hispanics).

Conclusions The results add to the literature indicating the importance of including measures of wealth in health research for what they may reveal about disparities not only between but also within different racial/ethnic groups.

  • Health Status
  • Inequalities
  • Self-Rated Health
  • Social Class
  • Social Inequalities

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