Race/Ethnic Differences, Skin Tone and Cognitive Aging among Older Latinos in the U.S.

TitleRace/Ethnic Differences, Skin Tone and Cognitive Aging among Older Latinos in the U.S.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsLiu, M-M, Telles, E, Tucker, KL, Falcon, LM, Velázquez, IZJiménez, Dow, W
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
Keywordscognitive aging, Hispanic aging, Hispanic health, Racial Disparities, skin color

OBJECTIVES: U.S. Latino populations are diverse. Research on racial identity, skin tone and Latino health is imperative for understanding and combatting racism and colorism. We examined differences in memory performance: among non-Latinos and Latinos who identified as Black, other and white in the U.S.; and then among Puerto Ricans in Boston whose skin tones ranged from dark, medium, light to 'white'.

METHODS: We used 2010 Health and Retirement Study and 2004 Boston Puerto Rican Health Survey data, respectively, to examine racial and color differences in memory performance among 50+ year older adults in the U.S. and Puerto Rican older adults in Boston. We applied OLS regression to immediate and delayed word recall test scores and adjusted for education, health conditions and health behaviors.

RESULTS: In adjusted models, white non-Latinos had better memory performance than white Latinos. Black Latinos, other Latinos, and Black non-Latinos had lower delayed word recall scores than white Latinos. Black Latinos and Black non-Latinos had similar scores. Intra-Latino racial disparities endured despite inclusion of education and other covariates. Among Puerto Ricans in Boston, medium-toned individuals had higher scores than 'white'-toned individuals.

DISCUSSION: Findings support the importance of examining self-identified race and skin tone in Latino aging research. Further investigation is needed to understand the stubborn intra-Latino racial disparities in memory performance and surprising adverse cognitive performance among 'white'-toned relative to darker-toned Puerto Ricans in Boston.

Citation Key12282
PubMed ID35231118