Health disparities among the elderly and old population by socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity in the US and Mexico.
The goal of this paper is to illustrate problems with the comparability of health indicators used in cross-national research and how cultural and validity biases may confound the interpretation of results. In particular, the authors address the comparability issues by using self-reported health in two different contexts—Mexico and the United States. The study design of MHAS allows for the first time to compare differences in self-reported health between a developing country (Mexico) and an industrialized country (the U.S.). Our results show that many of the observed patterns of self-reported diseases are sensitive to demographic phenomena such as, for example, differences in population age structure. In addition, our results show that Mexicans tend to down-grade their health status as being worse compared to non-Hispanic white Americans, and these differences cannot be explained by differences in diseases load or other objective health indicators. Thus, the analyses suggest that self-reported health of Mexicans may be culturally biased and determined by a general tendency to report worse health status.