Rich people are more likely to shop at Whole Foods, buy supplements, vote for a particular political party and...racially discriminate against minorities? That last part is according to a new sociology paper which will force some inconvenient questions about race and money in America.
Though it is commonly believed that wealth leads to better health and less discrimination, wealthier African- and Latino-Americans report more racial discrimination than poor ones, according to survey results. Meanwhile, as whites became more wealthy they report improved health.
The paper evaluated responses from participants in the young adult sample of the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. It included those who were 18 or older in 2012 and who responded to questions about their self-perceived health status and about discrimination - acute, chronic or both. The survey results used were 4,412 respondents who answered questions about acute discrimination and 5,248 who answered questions about chronic discrimination. There was significant overlap between the groups. Forty-five percent of the participants were white, 35 percent were black and 21 percent were Hispanic. They combined 33 years of data from survey participants, which allowed the researchers to analyze how socioeconomic status changed over time.
Acute discrimination includes experiences such as being fired from a job without good cause, or being passed over for a deserved promotion. Chronic discrimination is more about day-in, day-out slights such as being treated with less respect than other people, or as if others are afraid of you. Wealthier minorities reported more unfair treatment and the rationale by the authors is that nonwhites who are climbing the socioeconomic ladder find themselves in more situations where they're in the minority - whether that's at school, work or in their neighborhood.
They also noted that college-educated black women are much more likely than less-educated white women to deliver babies who don't survive the first year of life and wealthier black women have higher rates of high blood pressure and obesity than their less-wealthy white counterparts, which they attribute to discrimination.
"People assume that as your socioeconomic status improves, your health will improve as well. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case for Americans who aren't white," said lead author Cynthia Colen, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State. "Our study suggests that upward mobility might expose African Americans to more discrimination and that could have a harmful effect on their health."