Ch. 2 Cultural and Ethnic Diversity
Characteristics of the Adult Population in the United States
-The number and percentage of middle-aged and older adults in the United States is
growing at an unprecedented rate; the number of adults over age 65 is expected to double in
the next 40 years.
-There is also greater diversity of race and ethnicity in the United States than ever before.
The Graying of America
- The phrase “Graying of America” aptly describes increasing number and percentages of
older adults in the U.S. population.
- The increase in median age reflects the aging of the baby boomers
-Age Structure: the percentage of men and women of various ages grouped by age
- Age structures by regions give an incomplete picture for two reasons.
1. Regional averages hide great diversity among countries (Bangladesh and
Singapore are grouped together because they are close geographically, but these countries
have substantially different age structures)
2. Percentages between age groups hide percentages of growth within age groups
(the change in the percentage of elderly adults relative to other groups in Sub-saharan
Africa is expected to jump 50 percent)
-Life Expectancy: refers to the average predicted length of life. There’s been an increase
in average life expectancy in the United States during the twentieth century.
-Life expectancy will probably not continue to increase at this rate.
-Most of the change in life expectancy that occurred during the past century was the result
of reductions in infant and child mortality
Cultural Differences in Life Expectancy
-Very large differences exist in average life expectancies for different regions and
subpoplutions within the United States.
-Racial and ethnic disparities in average life expectancies contribute to the striking
differences between different regions within the United States. Economic factors and
lifestyle factos and their antecedents (ex. Race-based discrimination) in the cultures of
these different “Americas” contribute to the disparities in the average life expectancies.
- Racial/ethnic differences in access to health care and medical care can be traced to the
harmful effects of race-based discrimination in its various manifestations
- Average life expectancies are different for people who live in different countries
- Increasing aged population worldwide
- Demographic projections for different regions of the world may be inaccurate because they
depend on cultural factors.
- Changes in the characteristics of cultures are not always for the betterment of health and
may result in shorter rather than longer life spans and health spans
- 8 america’s identified on the basis of differences in life expectancy
-Increase in the incidence of obesity in children in the US and in other countries, and
resulting in increases of diabetes, will negatively impact longetivity, health span, and life
-Future changes in infant mortality, in the ability of individuals to resist infectious
diseases, in medical care and medications, and in social-environment conditions will
influence life expectancy in the future.
Sex Differences in life Expectancy
-Females > male life expectancy
-Sex differences in longevity are due to a combination of social, biological, and genetic
-Social Factors include health behaviors and attitudes, habits, lifestyles, and occupational
styles. For example, the major causes of death in the US include heart disease, lung cancer,
motor vehicle accidents, suicide, cirrhosis of the liver, and emphysema, are more likely to
affect men than woman. Such causes of death are associated with habits and lifestyles. For
example, lung cancer and heart disease are more likely to kill men because men have
historically been heavier smokers than women. Men also have fewer physical checkups tan
women, which reduces their opportunity for early medical treatment
- Stress at work influences the health and longevity of men and women
- Some cultural factors serve to promote health and longevity whereas others have
substantially negative effects
-Income level, educational level, and marital status are strongly associated with changes in
physical functioning for men. For women, control over health correlates strongly with
changes in physical functioning. This study suggested that older men stay healthier when
they are encouraged to participate in structured exercise programs, whereas older women
do better by keeping active and doing the things they enjoy
-Biological factors also influence sex differences in longevity
-Women in general have more resistance to infectious and degenerative diseases. For
instance estrogen production helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the
arteries). Further, the X chromosomes women carry may be linked with hormonal
mechanisms that produce more or better disease-fighting antibodies.
-Number of years an individual actually lives.
-The actual upper limit of the human life span has not changed much in recent years,
although more people have been approaching an advanced age or their particular limits.
-The average upper limit, or the maximum life span, refers to the chronological age that
average individuals could reach if they avoided or successfully managed the negative
consequences of diseases, illness, and accidents.
-An individual’s actual life span and health span are determined by an idiosyncratic
interplay between biogenetic and cultural factors.