Do Racist Attitudes Harm the Community Health Including Both the Victims and Perpetrators? A Multi-Level Analysis

YeonJin Lee, University of Pennsylvania
Peter Muennig, Columbia University
Ichiro Kawachi, Harvard School of Public Health

Many studies have focused on whether racism harms the health of targeted individuals. However less is known about whether and how racism harms the health of all community members including those who harbor such prejudice. The aim of this study is to examine racism as a multilevel risk factor harmful for the health of victims and perpetrators and the communities within which it occurs. We used data from the General Social Survey (GSS), a representative sample of the U.S. non-institutionalized population that included questions about racist attitudes. We prospectively linked the GSS data to mortality data via the National Death Index (NDI) and assessed the effect of racism on all-cause mortality of 25,572 individuals nested within 384 U.S. Primary Sampling Units. The study reveals that both blacks and whites living in communities with higher levels of racism had increased mortality rates compared to residents living in communities with less racism.

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Presented in Session 15: Neighborhood and Contextual Influences on Health