Health and Social Surveys Research Group

Experiences of black people in the Unites States and the United Kingdom

In collaboration with the Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, US

Principal researchers:

Ethnic inequalities/disparities in health have been repeatedly documented in the UK and US. In both countries the pattern is complex and the social and economic inequalities that underlie them have only been partially investigated. Also research has traditionally been country-specific, and has not, therefore, explored variations in experiences in different countries. Nor has it explored the impact of variations in country of ‘ancestral origin’.

However, one emerging finding is how migrants from the Caribbean to the US have fared relatively well, both in comparison with those who migrated to the UK and in comparison with Black Americans. Exploration of such variations among ethnic groups in different national settings, and with different national (rather than ‘racial’) origins may allow further depth of understanding of issues relevant to ethnic inequalities/disparities in health.

So, this study is exploring similarities and differences between different Black groups in the UK and US, using data collected as part of the US-based National Survey of American Life and two UK-based studies: the Ethnic Minority Psychiatric Illness Rates in the Community (EMPIRIC) study and the Health Survey for England 1999. Our sample includes people describing themselves as African (or Black) Americans, Caribbean Americans and Caribbean people in the UK. We use data on British Caribbean and American Caribbean people to facilitate the cross-national comparison; and data on Black American and Caribbean American people to facilitate an exploration of the migration effect.

Core to this study is a comparison of the attitudes and experiences of people who would be considered part of the same ‘racial’ group, but with different migration histories. Some will have migrated, or have relatives who migrated, from one country (the Caribbean or Africa), but to different destinations (the US or the UK); and some will have migrated, or have relatives who migrated, from different countries to the same destination. There is also, of course, variation in reasons for and period of migration.

The broad aims underlying the study are: to contribute to our understanding of the patterning and determinants of ethnic differences in health and social position and to explore issues relating to the development and maintenance of an identity as a member of an ethnic group, both more generally and in terms of whether and how these processes may relate to health and vary for particular groups.

Page last modified on 13 nov 12 13:56