Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic


  • Andrea M Przybysz
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_632

Race is the division of people by physical characteristics and is best understood as a social construct rather than an innate genetic or biological difference. Thanks to the recent work of the human genome project, we now know that there is greater genetic variance within what have been considered to be races than there is between races. Accordingly, the labels “Caucasian,” “Black,” and “Asian” convey meaning based on irrelevant characteristics such as a particular physical trait or the perceived presence or absence of such qualities as industriousness, reliability, cleanliness, and similar characteristics rather than the scientific truths that these characteristics were once thought to represent.

Though race-based distinctions may not be valid scientifically, societal labels based on race continue to help us as individuals living in a society to understand one another through social networks resulting from our various categorizations. Nevertheless, these distinctions are based on...

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Suggested Readings

  1. American College of Physicians. (2004). Racial and ethnic disparities in health care: A position paper of the American college of physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 141, 226–228.Google Scholar
  2. Chen, J., Wilkins, R., & Ng, E. (1996). Health expectancy by immigrant status, 1986 and 1991. Health Reports, 8(3), 29–38.PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Suggested Resources

  1. Hyman I. (2007). Immigration and health: Reviewing evidence of the healthy immigrant effect in Canada. The CERIS Working Paper Series 55. Retrieved March, 2010, from http://ceris.metropolis.net/Virtual%20Library/WKPP%20List/WKPP2007/CWP55.pdf
  2. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (2003). How race, ethnicity, immigration status, and language affect health insurance. Retrieved March, 2010, from http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/How-Race-Ethnicity-Immigration-Status-and-Language-Affect-Health-Insurance-Coverage-Access-to-and-Quality-of-Care-Among-the-Low-Income-Population.pdf
  3. Schur, C. & Feldman, J. (2001). Running in place: How job characteristics, immigrant status, and family structure keep Hispanics uninsured. The Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved March, 2010, from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2001/May/Running-in-Place--How-Job-Characteristics--Immigrant-Status--and-Family-Structure-Keep-Hispanics-Uni.aspx
  4. Smedley, B.D., Stith, A.Y., Nelson, A.R. (Eds.). (2003). Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Washington DC.: National Academy Press. Retrieved March, 2010, from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10260&page=199

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea M Przybysz
    • 1
  1. 1.Case Western Reserve University School of LawClevelandUSA