Weathering Among African Americans in Persistent Poverty: Implications for Health Policy

Award Year:
Arline Geronimus
Life Course, Minority Health
Rates of early health deterioration and excess mortality among African Americans in poverty can be staggering and are primarily attributable to chronic disease. Dr. Geronimus coined the term weathering to suggest that cumulative experience with social inequality and stressful environments contributes to this rapid health decline. She further hypothesizes that relatively early fertility timing in poor, African American communities may be directly related to pervasive health uncertainty and accelerated lifecourse timetables. This project explores the connection between racial inequalities in health and high rates of teen childbearing in poor, African American communities and opens debate on policy implications. The study challenges the prevailing policy perspective that changing health or fertility behavior especially among teenagers alone will result in social improvements. Dr. Geronimus seeks to use the analytic framework of weathering to bridge disciplinary divides and inform the policy debate about how best to construe and address problems of poverty.