Race, ethnicity, and the quality of life in America, 1972-2006
Lopez, Carlos A.
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Using data from the 1972-2006 General Social Surveys, this study extends and elaborates research on ascription and the quality of life. I examine how subjective measures such as happiness, health status, trust, and financial well-being are related to race, ethnicity, social class, and time. The results show that blacks assess their quality of life more negatively than whites. Over time, the prevailing pattern suggests a declining but still discernable significance of race. Notably, the racial gap persists with the introduction of class and demographic controls. The inclusion of Latino self-identification in the analyses shows a lower quality of life for Latinos compared to non-Latinos. That difference rarely remains when controls for class and demographics are considered. The use of partial proportional odds models that consider the nature of ordinal dependent variables corroborates previous quality of life research that use standard regression, a technically-inappropriate method for ordinal dependent variables.