Health Disparities Driven by Socioeconomic


Socioeconomic status (SES) is often measured as a combination of education, income, and occupation. It is commonly conceptualized as the social standing or class of an individual or group (APA). Depending on where you come down on the economic latter will often determine the quality and quantity of healthcare you are able to receive which in turn can have a lasting effect on your overall health. The disparity in good health, and the availability of affordable health care can be traced back to years of discriminatory laws designed to marginalize minorities and other non-white cultures.

Racial residential segregation is a fundamental cause of racial disparities in health. The physical separation of the races by enforced residence in certain areas is an institutional mechanism of racism that was designed to protect whites from social interaction with blacks. Despite the absence of supportive legal statutes, the degree of residential segregation remains extremely high for most African Americans in the United States (Williams). Discrimination and marginalization are sometimes barriers for ethnic and racial minorities seeking to escape poverty Minorities are more likely to receive high-cost mortgages: African Americans (53%) and Latinos (43%), in comparison to Caucasians (18%) (APA).

Studies show that one of the major contributors to racial disparity in the health and the quality of healthcare is the segregation of the ethnic groups with one group, generally white people having access to better schools and more opportunities to better higher paying jobs. In contrast, to non-whites who commonly live in low-income communities with poor schools and a limited number opportunities to find or qualify for good well-paying jobs. Economic status is a good barometer to gauge health and access to good healthcare. Individuals who earn more money often have better diets, they eat quality foods that are generally healthier, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean healthy meat and fish, a quality diet, a healthy diet. Individuals who make less money must shop in the way that maximizes the strength of their dollars. They shop for what they can afford diets that include foods with high fat, high salt, and high sugar, fatty meats and little to no fruits and vegetables. A diet that is conducive to poor health.

How do we close the disparity gap between those that have access to quality health and healthcare and those who do not? We first must address the social, economic, and environmental forces that create health and social inequities in a community. Policies that aren’t helping fix the problems need to be reexamined or done away with completely. The need for more opportunities to good schools and higher education so that individuals can have an opportunity for better employment. Reducing SES disparities in health will require policy initiatives addressing the components of socioeconomic status (income, education, and occupation) as well as the pathways by which these affect health (Adler).

The gap in the disparity in health and the access to quality healthcare can only be eradicated by serious policies that deal with the three major contributors to health and health care disparity. The first is dealing with policies that discriminate against minorities. The second is the ability to afford and have access to a quality education, and the third is having the opportunity to apply and get a good high paying job. Addressing these problems would alleviate most of the major problems that are associated with causes for poor health and access to quality healthcare.


Adler, N. E., & Newman, K. Socioeconomic Disparities In Health: Pathways And Policies. Retrieved from

Racial Residential Segregation: A Fundamental Cause of Racial Disparities in Health

David R. Williams, PhD, MPH, Chiquita Collins, PhD

American Psychological Association: Ethnic and Racial Minorities & Socioeconomic Status





















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