Does Racial Segregation in Schools Contribute to Disparities in Heart Health?

A new study finds that the racial segregation of schools may impact cardiovascular health later in life. The research team notes that school segregation may increase stress, constrain socioeconomic opportunities, and negatively alter health behaviors.

The sample included 1,053 Black participants who ever resided in school districts that were under a court desegregation order in 1991 but subsequently were released from court-ordered desegregation. They found that school segregation was associated with a lower probability of good self-rated health, an increased level of binge drinking and longstanding negative impacts on black adults’ cardiovascular health.

The authors conclude that “attending racially segregated schools, which are often underfunded and tend to have a high concentration of students whose families do not have the material resources or political capital to overcome this barrier, may result in a lower-quality education. This can adversely impact educational attainment, the concentration of resources within people’s social networks, labor market opportunities, and future earnings. Moreover, students in segregated schools are exposed to discrimination, including perceived discrimination and actual discrimination due to harsher treatment and discipline of students at racially segregated schools. Accumulated stress associated with socioeconomic constraints and experiences of racism may, in turn, lead to poor health among Black adults.”

The full study, “School Racial Segregation and Long-Term Cardiovascular Health Among Black Adults in the US: A Quasi-Experimental Study,” was published on PLOS ONE. It may be accessed here.

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