NPC Working Paper #06-25

July 2006

Lifting Gates--Lengthening Lives: Did Civil Rights Policies Improve the Health of African-American Women in the 1960's and 1970's?

George Kaplan, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan; Nalini Ranjit, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan; Sarah Burgard, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, Department of Sociology, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan

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Abstract

Based on literally thousands of studies carried out over many decades, it is increasingly accepted that social and socioeconomic conditions act as important determinants of both individual health and the health of populations (Kaplan et al. 1987; Kaplan and Lynch 1997). Wages, income, and wealth, the nature of work, investments in human capital, and the levels of resources and risks in communities are now recognized by many, as arguably the most critical determinants of health (Kaplan 2001; Evans et al. 1994). It seems possible that social and economic policies in their ability to alter these determinants might also impact health, even though that is not their primary intent. Furthermore there is increasing recognition that historical and contemporary forces that differentially distribute these determinants to racial groups, within and across generations, may underlie many of the pernicious health gaps between racial groups that are found in the United States (Williams and Collins 1995). ...