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Interpreting the Paradoxical in the Hispanic Paradox

Demographic and Epidemiologic Approaches

Authors

  • ALBERTO PALLONI,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
      Address for correspondence: Alberto Palloni, Ph.D., Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Voice: 608-262-3131; fax: 608-262-8400; palloni@ssc.wisc.edu.
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  • JEFFREY D. MORENOFF

    1. Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
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Address for correspondence: Alberto Palloni, Ph.D., Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Voice: 608-262-3131; fax: 608-262-8400; palloni@ssc.wisc.edu.

Abstract

Abstract: This paper discusses problems that are common to both the epidemiologic risk-factor approach and the demographic variable-based approach to studying population health. We argue that there is a shared reluctance to move away from a narrow variable-based thinking that pervades both disciplines, and a tendency to reify the multivariate linear procedures employed in both disciplines. In particular, we concentrate on the difficulties generated by classical variable-based approaches that are especially striking when one neglects selection processes and the use of strategies to minimize its effects. We illustrate these difficulties in terms of the so-called “Hispanic Paradox”, which refers to comparative health advantages that some Hispanic groups appear to have. We find that much of what is conceived by demographers and epidemiologists as a paradox may not be paradoxical at all.

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