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Whites but Not Blacks Gain Life Expectancy from Social Contacts

Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health (CRECH), School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Behav. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 68;
Received: 8 August 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
Background. Recent research suggests that the health gain from economic resources and psychological assets may be systematically larger for Whites than Blacks. Aim. This study aimed to assess whether the life expectancy gain associated with social contacts over a long follow up differs for Blacks and Whites. Methods. Data came from the Americans’ Changing Lives (ACL) Study, 1986–2011. The sample was a nationally representative sample of American adults 25 and older, who were followed for up to 25 years (n = 3361). Outcome was all-cause mortality. The main predictor was social contacts defined as number of regular visits with friends, relatives, and neighbors. Baseline demographics (age and gender), socioeconomic status (education, income, and employment), health behaviors (smoking and drinking), and health (chronic medical conditions, obesity, and depressive symptoms) were controlled. Race was the focal moderator. Cox proportional hazard models were used in the pooled sample and based on race. Results. More social contacts predicted higher life expectancy in the pooled sample. A significant interaction was found between race and social contacts, suggesting that the protective effect of more social contacts is smaller for Blacks than Whites. In stratified models, more social contacts predicted an increased life expectancy for Whites but not Blacks. Conclusion. Social contacts increase life expectancy for White but not Black Americans. This study introduces social contacts as another social resource that differentially affects health of Whites and Blacks. View Full-Text
Keywords: racial health disparities; social isolation; social engagement; mortality racial health disparities; social isolation; social engagement; mortality
MDPI and ACS Style

Assari, S. Whites but Not Blacks Gain Life Expectancy from Social Contacts. Behav. Sci. 2017, 7, 68.

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