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Boen, Courtney E.; Yang, Yang Claire; Aiello, Allison E.; Dennis, Alexis C.; Harris, Kathleen Mullan; Kwon, Dayoon; & Belsky, Daniel W. (2023). Patterns and Life Course Determinants of Black-White Disparities in Biological Age Acceleration: A Decomposition Analysis. Demography, 60(6), 1815-1841.


Despite the prominence of the weathering hypothesis as a mechanism underlying racialized inequities in morbidity and mortality, the life course social and economic determinants of Black–White disparities in biological aging remain inadequately understood. This study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 6,782), multivariable regression, and Kitagawa–Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition to assess Black–White disparities across three measures of biological aging: PhenoAge, Klemera–Doubal biological age, and homeostatic dysregulation. It also examines the contributions of racial differences in life course socioeconomic and stress exposures and vulnerability to those exposures to Black–White disparities in biological aging. Across the outcomes, Black individuals exhibited accelerated biological aging relative to White individuals. Decomposition analyses showed that racial differences in life course socioeconomic exposures accounted for roughly 27% to 55% of the racial disparities across the biological aging measures, and racial disparities in psychosocial stress exposure explained 7% to 11%. We found less evidence that heterogeneity in the associations between social exposures and biological aging by race contributed substantially to Black–White disparities in biological aging. Our findings offer new evidence of the role of life course social exposures in generating disparities in biological aging, with implications for understanding age patterns of morbidity and mortality risks.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title



Boen, Courtney E.
Yang, Yang Claire
Aiello, Allison E.
Dennis, Alexis C.
Harris, Kathleen Mullan
Kwon, Dayoon
Belsky, Daniel W.

Article Type


Data Set/Study

Health and Retirement Study (HRS)


United States






Harris, KM - 0000-0001-9757-1026
Yang - 0000-0001-7279-1479