Students of color show health advantages when they attend schools that emphasize the value of diversity

Cynthia S. Levine*, Hazel Rose Markus, Makeda K. Austin, Edith Chen, Gregory E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

As the United States becomes more diverse, the ways in which mainstream institutions recognize and address race and ethnicity will be increasingly important. Here, we show that one novel and salient characteristic of an institutional environment, that is, whether a school emphasizes the value of racial and ethnic diversity, predicts better cardiometabolic health among adolescents of color. Using a diverse sample of adolescents who attend more than 100 different schools in predominantly urban locations, we find that when schools emphasize the value of diversity (operationalized as mentioning diversity in their mission statements), students of color, but not white students, have lower values on a composite of five biomarkers of inflammation, have less insulin resistance and compensatory β-cell activity, and have fewer metabolic syndrome signs and score lower on a continuous metabolic syndrome composite. These results suggest that institutions that emphasize diversity may play an unacknowledged role in protecting the health of people of color and, thus, may be a site for future interventions to reduce health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6013-6018
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume116
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Ethnicity
  • Health
  • Inequality
  • Race
  • School

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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