SOURCE: Data from Panel Study of Income Dynamics, as reported by Smith (1999: Table 1, p. 147).
effects on health. The key question is not which of the two alternative pathways can be dismissed entirely. Rather, the more appropriate question may be which subset of the well-documented associations between socioeconomic status and health is most susceptible to interpretations that flow from health to status.
STATUS, RACE, AND ETHNICITY
The health gradient by socioeconomic status is important for racial and ethnic differences because socioeconomic status differs considerably by race and ethnicity. Table 4-2 shows some variations in socioeconomic status among older people. Older black and Hispanics are much less likely than whites to have a high school diploma or a college degree and much more likely to live in poverty. Older Asians have relatively more education, but compared with whites, twice the percentage of them live in poverty. Similar figures for American Indians and Alaska Natives are not available, but