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Race, Lifetime SES, and Allostatic Load among Older Adults

Citation

Thomas Tobin, Courtney S. & Hargrove, Taylor W. (Online ahead of print). Race, Lifetime SES, and Allostatic Load among Older Adults. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Prior research demonstrates that Black Americans receive fewer health benefits at high levels of SES relative to Whites. Yet, few studies have considered the role of lifetime SES (i.e. changes in SES from childhood to adulthood) in shaping these patterns among older adults. This study investigates the extent to which racial disparities in allostatic load (AL), an indicator of accelerated physiological aging, vary across levels of lifetime SES among Black and White adults aged 50+.
METHODS: With data from the Nashville Stress and Health Study, modified Poisson regression models were used to assess racial differences in the odds of high AL (4+ high-risk biomarkers) among Black and White older adults (N=518) within each level of lifetime SES (i.e., stable low SES, upward mobility, downward mobility, stable high SES).
RESULTS: Stable high SES was associated with greater odds of high AL; there was not a significant association between other lifetime SES trajectories and AL. However, the magnitude of racial disparities varied across levels of lifetime SES, with a significant Black-White difference in AL observed only among upwardly mobile (OR=1.76, 95% CI=1.24-2.51) and high SES groups (OR=2.22, 95% CI=1.37-3.58).
CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that racial disparities in AL among older adults depends on individuals' lifetime SES trajectories, and that older Black Americans receive fewer health benefits for achieving higher SES. These findings underscore the need to evaluate socioeconomic resources across the life course to clarify the extent of racial disparities among aging populations.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glab160

Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type

Regular

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Journal Title

Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences

Author(s)

Thomas Tobin, Courtney S.
Hargrove, Taylor W.

PMCID

PMC Journal - In Process

Data Set/Study

Nashville Stress and Health Study (NSAHS)

Continent/Country

United States of America

State

Tennessee

Race/Ethnicity

Black
White