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Reconsidering RaceSocial Science Perspectives on Racial Categories in the Age of Genomics$
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Kazuko Suzuki and Diego A. Von Vacano

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190465285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190465285.001.0001

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Nature versus Nurture in the Explanations for Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities

Nature versus Nurture in the Explanations for Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities

Parsing Disparities in the Era of Genome-Wide Association Studies

(p.120) 6 Nature versus Nurture in the Explanations for Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities
Reconsidering Race

Jay S. Kaufman

Dinela Rushani

Richard S. Cooper

Oxford University Press

This chapter points out that some researchers explain the higher mortality rates among blacks in the United States as “nature”, blaming such rates primarily on blacks' genetic makeup. Others explain the phenomenon as “nurture”, blaming social status differences stemming from systemic discrimination. For a genetic difference to be used to explain an observed health disparity, the identified causal variant would have to have a large effect on the disease phenotype risk and would have to have a substantially different prevalence in the two racial populations, and the disease would have to be a significant contributor to mortality in the racial population. Genetic studies were done on cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, homicide, and more. In evaluating results from these studies and previous knowledge, 3% of the entire racial disparity in mortality can be accounted for, which leaves 97% of disparities to social origin.

Keywords:   nature, nurture, mortality rates, social status differences, genetic makeup, African Americans, blacks, genetic studies, racial disparity, social origin

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