Is Self-Rated Health Comparable Between Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics? Evidence From the Health and Retirement Study

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Using subsequent all-cause mortality as a yardstick for retrospective health, this study assessed the comparability of self-rated health (SRH) between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics.


Based on longitudinal data from 6,870 white and 886 Hispanic respondents aged between 51 and 61 in the 1992 Health and Retirement Study, we related SRH in 1992 to risk of mortality in the 1992–2008 period. Logit models were used to predict white–Hispanic differences in reporting fair or poor SRH. Survival curves and cox proportional hazard models were estimated to assess whether and the extent to which the SRH–mortality association differs between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics.


Hispanic respondents reported worse SRH than whites at the baseline, yet they had similar risk of mortality as whites in the 1992–2008 period. Overall, Hispanics rated their health more pessimistically than whites. This was especially the case for Hispanics who rated their health fair or poor at the baseline, whereas their presumed health conditions, as reflected by subsequent risk of mortality, should be considerably better than their white counterparts.


Health disparities between whites and Hispanics aged between 51 and 61 will be overestimated if the assessment has been solely based on differences in SRH between the two groups. Findings from this study call for caution in relying on SRH to quantify and explain health disparities between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics in the United States.

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