Early-life origins of the race gap in men's mortality

David F. Warner, Mark D. Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Using a life course framework, we examine the early life origins of the race gap in men's all-cause mortality. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Older Men (1966-1990), we evaluate major social pathways by which early life conditions differentiate the mortality experiences of blacks and whites. Our findings indicate that early life socioeconomic conditions, particularly parental occupation and family structure, explain part of the race gap in mortality. Black men's higher rates of death are associated with lower socioeconomic standing in early life and living in homes lacking both biological parents. However, these effects operate indirectly through adult socioeconomic achievement processes, as education, family income, wealth, and occupational complexity statistically account for the race gap in men's mortality. Our findings suggest that policy interventions to eliminate race disparities in mortality and health should address both childhood and adult socioeconomic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-226
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Health and Social Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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