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Working Paper Number RSM2018-03
Lucia C. Lykke, Michael S. Rendall


Despite increases in interracial and inter-ethnic relationships in the United States, few studies have investigated associations between partner race/ethnicity and health. We do so using the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (292,411 combined years of observation). We analyze self-rated health in cross-section and at two time points one-year apart in marital and cohabiting relationships. Having a White partner is associated with higher self-rated health for Hispanic, Black, and Asian men and women, relative to having a partner of one’s own race/ethnicity. For White women, but not for White men, having a non-White partner is associated with worse self-rated health. We interpret these findings as contrary to stress theories of the adverse impact of interracial and inter-ethnic partnership on health, and more consistent instead with gendered social-status and economic-resource theories.

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