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The Black-White Paradox Revisited: Mental Disorder in Three Cohorts of Black and White Americans

Tue, August 15, 8:30 to 10:10am, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 515A


The tendency for blacks to report similar or better mental health than whites is well-established in adult populations. If the black-white patterning of mental disorder is a true paradox, then blacks should have lower rates of mental disorder than whites from ages 4 to 18 both across and within three cohorts of Americans. Using two nationally representative surveys, we find that the most recent cohort of blacks have worse mental health than whites for anxiety disorders and impulse disorders. Comparing findings from the most recent cohort of blacks and whites to that of older cohorts, we find that the race patterning of mental disorder has gradually changed across cohorts, to the disadvantage of black Americans, and that there are general differences in the black-white patterning of mental disorder by gender for certain disorders. We discuss our findings in the context of cohort processes that are anchored in larger racial inequities.