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The Impact of Multi-Dimensional Measures of Race/Ethnicity on the Self-Reported Health Status of Latinos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2015

John A. Garcia*
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan
Gabriel R. Sanchez
Department of Political Science and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, University of New Mexico
Shannon Sanchez-Youngman
Department of Political Science and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, University of New Mexico
Edward D. Vargas
Center for Women’s Health and Health Disparities Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Vickie D. Ybarra
Department of Political Science and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, University of New Mexico
*Corresponding author: John A. Garcia, Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan, P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. E-mail:


A growing body of social science research has sought to conceptualize race as a multi-dimensional concept in which context, societal relations, and institutional dynamics are key components. Utilizing a specially-designed survey, we develop and use multiple measures of race (skin color, ascribed race, and discrimination experiences) to capture race as a “lived experience” and assess these measures’ impact on Latinos’ self-rated health status. We model these measures of race as lived experience to test the explanatory power of race, both independently and as an integrated scale, with categorical regression, scaling, and dimensional analyses. Our analyses show that our multiple measures of race have significant and negative effects on Latinos’ self-reported health. Skin color is a dominant factor that impacts self-reported health both directly and indirectly. We then advocate for the utilization of multiple measures of race, adding to those used in our analysis, and their application to research regarding inequities in other health and social outcomes. Our analysis provides important contributions to research across a wide range of health, illness, social, and political disparities for communities of color.

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Copyright © Hutchins Center for African and African American Research 2015 

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