Socioeconomic and Race/Ethnic Disparities in Later Life Physical Performance

Steven A. Haas, Arizona State University
Leah S. Rohlfsen, St. Lawrence University

We use data from the 2004-2006 Health and Retirement Study to examine whether SES mediates and moderates race/ethnic disparities in measures of physical performance including grip strength, peak expiratory flow, and gait speed. In preliminary results we find that Blacks and Hispanics have lower levels of performance than Whites, though these differences vary by specific measure of performance. We also find that higher levels of educational attainment are associated with better peak respiratory flow and grip strength measures, but not with faster gait speeds. In addition there is evidence that educational attainment partially mediates race-ethnic disparities in physical performance. We find very little evidence for race-by- education interaction effects suggesting that educational attainment does not moderate race and ethnic inequalities in physical performance. For PAA we will extend the analysis to look at these associations longitudinally and we will investigate a wider array of measures of childhood and adult SES.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 6