Background: Socioeconomic status (SES) is essential for maintaining health, and self-rated health (SRH) is not an exception to this rule. This study explored racial differences in the protective effects of maternal educational attainment at birth against poor SRH of the youth 15 years later. Methods: Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), this 15-year longitudinal study followed 1934 youths from birth to age 15. This sample was composed of White (n
= 497, 25.7%), and Black (n
= 1437, 74.3%) youths. The independent variable was maternal educational attainment at birth. SRH at age 15 was the dependent variable. Family structure was the covariate. Race was the focal moderator. We ran logistic regression models in the pooled sample, as well as stratified models based on race. Results: In the pooled sample, maternal educational attainment and family structure were not predictive of SRH for the youths at age 15. Race interacted with maternal educational attainment, indicating a stronger association between maternal educational attainment at birth on youth SRH for Whites compared to Blacks. In race stratified models, maternal educational attainment at birth was protective against poor SRH for White but not Black youths. Conclusion: White but not Black youths gain less SRH from their maternal educational attainment. Enhancing education attainment may not have identical effects across racial groups. The health status of Blacks may be less responsive to improvements in maternal educational attainment. Policies should go beyond investing in educational attainment by empowering Black families to better use the educational attainment that they gain. Policies and programs should reduce the costs of upward social mobility for minority families.
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