How being multiracial affects self-reported health

It is only in the last 11 years or so that official forms (like the Census) have allowed individuals in America to identify as being from more than one race. A couple of sociologists argue that this multiracial identification impacts self-reported health:

Bratter and Bridget Gorman, associate professor of sociology at Rice, studied nearly 1.8 million cases, including data from more than 27,000 multiracial adults, from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) questionnaire…

The new study found that only 13.5 percent of whites report their health as fair to poor, whereas most other single-race or multiracial groups were more likely to report those health conditions: 24 percent of American Indians, 19.9 percent of blacks and 18.4 percent of others. Single-race Asians were the least likely to report fair-to-poor health – only 8.7 percent did so.

While differences in self-rated health exist between single-race whites and multiracial whites, the percentage of single-race blacks who rated their health as fair to poor is nearly identical to that of multiracial blacks. The same is true for single-race and multiracial Asians.

“Our findings highlight the need for new approaches in understanding how race operates in a landscape where racial categories are no longer mutually exclusive yet racial inequality still exists,” said Bratter, director of Race Scholars at Rice, a program within the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. “This extends beyond health data to other measurements of well-being, income, poverty and so much else.”

The key question here seems to be whether multiracial individuals experience the same health outcomes as single race individuals.  From this description, it sounds like this study suggests that being multiracial and white has different health outcomes compared to whites while being black or multiracial black has the same health outcomes. This would make sense given what we know about health differentials by race (more than genetics and extending to areas like life expectancy).

(I searched the journal Demography for more information about the conclusions of this study but it must not be listed yet.)

Baseball training now including cultural assimilation

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen recently made comments suggesting Latin American baseball players are not treated as well as Asian players. While reading an article about this on ESPN.com, I was interested to find that major league teams have stepped up efforts to help players assimilate to American culture:

[M]any teams are doing what Guillen has suggested. Although they aren’t hiring specific interpreters, many organizations have intensified their English and cultural assimilation classes at the minor league level. This is a recent development, which is why Guillen hasn’t seen its impact at the major league level.

Teams recognize that a player’s path to success depends on how quickly he can assimilate into the American culture. It’s not nearly enough to be able to throw 95 mph or to hit a ball 450 feet. Pity the teams that lag behind in realizing this. It’s to a team’s benefit to have its players focused on baseball and not on whether they can order dinner, pay their rent or call for a taxi. Teams should do this not for altruistic reasons but for simple economic reasons. It’s a sound fiscal decision to put your employees in the best position to succeed.

Take the case of star Cleveland Indians rookie catcher Carlos Santana. Although he had been bashing Triple-A pitching for most of this year, one of the reasons Cleveland waited until the middle of the season to call him up to the majors was because the team wanted him to focus on language training.

The writer portrays this as a sound business decision but surely there are more dimensions to the story than this. What is the responsibility of a sports team (or any business) to its employees? Helping players adjust to a new culture or helping players complete an education (an issue in baseball, football, and basketball) or navigate a new world of fame and money is an important consideration. Not only might it be a sound economic decision and boost on-field performance but it also suggests teams might also be interested in the human potential (and not just athletic potential) of their players.