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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 132073, 8 pages
Research Article

Examining the Racial Crossover in Mortality between African American and White Older Adults: A Multilevel Survival Analysis of Race, Individual Socioeconomic Status, and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Context

1Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1430 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1575, USA
2School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1350 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Received 20 February 2011; Accepted 10 May 2011

Academic Editor: Bo A. Hagberg

Copyright © 2011 Li Yao and Stephanie A. Robert. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We examine whether individual and neighborhood socioeconomic context contributes to black/white disparities in mortality among USA older adults. Using national longitudinal data from the Americans' Changing Lives study, along with census tract information for each respondent, we conduct multilevel survival analyses. Results show that black older adults are disadvantaged in mortality in younger old age, but older black adults have lower mortality risk than whites after about age 80. Both individual SES and neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage contribute to the mortality risk of older adults but do not completely explain race differences in mortality. The racial mortality crossover persists even after controlling for multilevel SES, suggesting that black older adults experience selective survival at very old ages. Addressing the individual and neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage of blacks is necessary to reduce mortality disparities that culminate in older adulthood.