Racial/Ethnic Integration and Child Health Disparities
Racial/ethnic health disparities across the life course are both a stark indicator of the lack of integration in our society, as well as a refl ection of racial inequities-or lack of integration-in other areas, for example, neighborhood environment. Th is is particularly the case when we look at health disparities among children, since they signal an uneven playing fi eld that starts before children are born and has implications across the life course. In this chapter, we argue that racial/ethnic health disparities can serve as a marker of racial integration. We then examine how the lack of residential integrationresulting in a highly unequal geography of neighborhood opportunity-is a root cause of racial/ethnic health disparities in childhood and beyond. We conclude by showing that despite the severity of racial/ethnic health disparities, an encouraging sign is that, unlike in other areas where we see “race fatigue,” in recent years public health has experienced an increasing recognition of the magnitude of such disparities, their causes, and the urgent need to address them. Increasing evidence on the extent of racial/ethnic health disparities and their origins may serve to renew the national debate on racial integration.