Changes in racial categorization over time and health status: An examination of multiracial young adults in the USA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective. Multiracial (two or more races) American health related to racial stability over the life course is a pressing issue in a burgeoning multi-ethnic and multicultural global society. Most studies on multiracial health are cross-sectional and thus focus on racial categorization at a single time point, so it is difficult to establish how health indicators change for multiracials over time. Accordingly the central aim of this paper was to explore if consistency in racial categories over time is related to self-rated health for multiracial young adults in the USA.Methods. Data were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) survey (N = 7957). Weighted multivariate logistic regression was used to exam health status in early adulthood between individuals who switched racial categories between Waves 1 and 3 compared to those who remained in the same racial categories.Results. There were significant differences in report of self-rated health when comparing consistent monoracial adults with multiracial adults who switch racial categories over time. Diversifying (switching from one category to many categories) multiracial respondents are less likely to report fair/poor self-rated health compared to single-race minority young adults in the fully adjusted model (OR = 0.20; 95% CI [0.06-0.60]).Conclusion. These results demonstrate the importance of critically examining changes in racial categories as related to health status over time. Furthermore, these results demonstrate how the switch in racial categories during adolescence can explain some variations in health status during young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-157
Number of pages12
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 3 2016


  • health status
  • mixed race
  • multiracial
  • racial categorization
  • self-rated health
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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