The Role of Education in Explaining Racial/Ethnic Allostatic Load Differentials in the United States

Jeffrey Howard, University of Texas at San Antonio
P. Johnelle Sparks, University of Texas at San Antonio

This study expands on earlier findings of racial/ethnic and education-allostatic load associations by assessing whether racial/ethnic differences in allostatic load persist across all levels of educational attainment. This study used data from 4 recent waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Results from this study suggest allostatic load differs significantly by age (p<0.001), race/ethnicity (p<0.001) and educational attainment for all adults (p<0.001). Results for tests of an education-race/ethnicity interaction were significant (p<0.05). Additionally, stratified models suggest allostatic load levels do not differ by race/ethnicity for individuals with low education, rather the largest allostatic load differentials for Mexican-Americans (p<0.05) and non-Hispanic Blacks (p<0.01) are observed for individuals with a college degree or more. These findings add to the growing evidence that differences in socioeconomic opportunities by race/ethnicity are likely a consequence of differential returns to education, which contribute to higher stress burdens among minorities compared to non-Hispanic Whites.

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Adult Health and Mortality