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Childhood adversity launches lifelong relationship and health disadvantage for black men
Date:2/26/2014

hronic sources of stress such as financial or job issues), quality of relationships in adulthood (e.g., with partner/spouse; children; parents), and health in adulthood.

"Black men are exposed to 28 percent more childhood adversity than white men and the negative effect of childhood adversity on the quality of relationships in adulthood is three times stronger for black men than white men," Umberson said. "This pathway from childhood adversity to lower quality relationships in adulthood explains part of the race disparity in health among men, something that has not been recognized in previous research."

Just as white men are healthier than black men, white women are healthier than black women. However, the study revealed that neither childhood adversity nor the quality of relationships in adulthood explain much of the racial disparity in health among black and white women.

"I was surprised that childhood adversity had such a minor impact on black women's health in adulthood, especially since the effect was so strong for black men," Umberson said. "I think this is best explained by women's tendency to seek out social contact in response to stress. Generally speaking, women tend to have more close relationships and to share their feelings with others. This is true for black and white women. Supportive relationships protect health."

Overall, and consistent with prior research, Umberson and her co-authors found that black women are least healthy, followed by white women, black men, and white men.

In terms of policy implications, Umberson said the study suggests policymakers should put a greater emphasis on improving American children's quality of life. "Creating programs that provide children with access to stable environments and nurturing adults at the youngest possible age may be particularly important for black male youthwith health and well-being benefits that last a lifetime," Umberson said.


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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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