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Colloquium Series: Deb Umberson, Univerity of Texas Austin
March 22, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
A Legacy of Loss: Race Differences in Timing and Exposure to Death of Family Members in the U.S.
Longstanding racial differences in U.S. life expectancy suggest that Black Americans would be exposed to significantly more family member deaths than White Americans from childhood through adulthood, which, given the health risks posed by grief and bereavement, would add to the disadvantages that they face. Umberson will present new results from an analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (N = 7,617) and the Health and Retirement Study (N=34,757) concerning racial differences in exposure to the death of family members at different ages, beginning in childhood. Overall, results clearly show that Blacks are significantly more likely than Whites to have experienced the death of specific family members as well greater cumulative exposure to family member deaths from childhood through late midlife. These results reveal an underappreciated layer of racial inequality in the U.S., one that could contribute to the intergenerational transmission of health disadvantage. Umberson will discuss the need to address the potential impact of more frequent and earlier exposure to family member deaths in the process of cumulative disadvantage.