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May Publications Release


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Gabriele Ciciurkaite

Ciciurkaite, G. (2021). Race/ethnicity, gender and the SES gradient in BMI: The diminishing returns of SES for racial/ethnic minorities. Sociology of Health & Illness.

Using the 2013–2016 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), this study uses the case of obesity to examine whether and to what extent racial and ethnic minorities experience fewer benefits from higher SES relative to their white counterparts. Study results provide support for the diminishing returns in health hypothesis and add an intersectional dimension to this perspective by uncovering stark gendered racial/ethnic disparities in BMI. Specifically, research findings demonstrate that higher income and education is associated with lower BMI among white but not black or Mexican American adults. The most substantial decrease in BMI associated with increase in individual‐level SES was observed among white women. Taken together, empirical evidence from this study underscores difficulty in overcoming adverse health effects of lower ascribed status (i.e. gender or race/ethnicity) even with attainment of higher achieved social status (i.e. educational attainment or income) and offers promising avenues for future research on identifying complex hierarchies that shape population health outcomes.


Brown, R. L., & Ciciurkaite, G. (2021). The “Own” and the “Wise” Revisited: Physical Disability, Stigma, and Mental Health among Couples. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 0022146521998343.

Utilizing data from a cross-sectional community survey of 455 heterosexual couples in which at least one partner has a physical disability, we examine the associations between stigma and psychological distress for both partners. We also assess whether these associations are moderated by gender. Findings from an actor-partner interdependence model analysis reveal that personally experienced stigma and vicarious stigma experiences have additive effects on psychological distress, but only among women. We discuss how these findings extend a relational understanding of stigma and its effects and implications for research and practice.

Jennifer Givens

Bai, Yikang* and Jennifer E. Givens. 2021. “Ecologically Unequal Exchange of Plastic Waste?: A Longitudinal Analysis of International Trade in Plastic Waste.” Journal of World-Systems Research, 27(1), 265-287.

Plastic production has been increasing since mass production of plastics started in the 1950s. As plastic production has continued to rise, so has plastic waste. Meanwhile, international trade in plastic waste has increased as well. The narrative about global trade in plastic waste oftentimes is that the Global North transfers waste to the Global South. However, little is known quantitatively about the extent to which the Global North shifts environmental harms of plastic waste to the Global South. We examine the extent to which global trade in plastic waste provides evidence for ecologically unequal exchange relationships from 2003 to 2013. We then explore whether plastic waste can be a resource for some countries. Specifically, we investigate how trade in plastic waste is associated with level of economic development in high-income countries and non-high-income countries. The findings provide nuanced evidence of ecologically unequal exchange relationships between high-income countries and non-high-income countries in plastic waste trade. The results also indicate that higher plastic waste import is associated with greater economic development in non-high-income countries. This research advances our understanding of the theory of ecologically unequal exchange in the context of international trade in plastic waste.

Jennifer Givens & Michael Briscoe

Briscoe, Michael D.*, Jennifer E. Givens, and Madeleine Alder. 2021. “An Intersectional Analysis of the Carbon Intensity of Well-Being in the United States, 1998-2009.” Social Indicators Research

There is an ongoing need for indicators that balance social and environmental sustainability outcomes. The carbon intensity of well-being (CIWB) is a sustainability indicator that captures environmental impact and social well-being in a single measure. One of the benefits of this measure is that it can be applied across different scales and contexts to explore factors that might reduce the CIWB, leading to greater sustainability. We demonstrate the further utility of the indicator by analyzing CIWB in the United States at the state-level and take an intersectional approach, calculating CIWB by race and gender. We find income inequality contributes to larger CIWB for all groups, but the impacts are greater for blacks compared to whites and males compared to females. Economic growth is also associated with larger CIWB for all groups. These results suggest that to achieve more sustainable outcomes may require policies that address inequalities as well as broader changes to economies.

Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde

Marquez-Velarde G., Miller G. H., Ma G., Keith V. M. Psychological Distress among Black Immigrants by Region of Birth. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. 2021 Apr. DOI: 10.1007/s10903-021-01203-w.

We assess the likelihood of moderate and severe psychological distress among Black immigrants. We test the region of context framework, which states that Black immigrants from majority-Black and racially mixed regions of origin have better health outcomes than Black immigrants from majority-white contexts. We utilize data from IPUMS Health Surveys, 2000-2018. We employed partial proportional odds models to assess the likelihood of moderate and severe psychological distress among Black immigrants and U.S.-born Black Americans. All immigrant groups, except for Black Europeans, are significantly less likely to be in moderate and severe distress vis-à-vis U.S.-born Black Americans (p < 0.01). Black Africans are about 54-58% less likely to be in severe distressed compared to U.S.-born Black Americans. Black immigrants from racially mixed and majority-Black contexts (Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, South America, and Africa) are significantly less likely to be afflicted with moderate and severe distress than U.S.-born Black Americans.

Baksun Sung

Sung, B. (2021). A spatial analysis of the effect of neighborhood contexts on cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in U.S. Counties through October 20, 2020 Preventive Medicine, 147, 106457. 

COVID-19 has become a nationwide public health crisis in the United States and the number of COVID-19 cases is different by U.S. counties. Also, previous studies have reported that neighborhood contexts have an influence on health outcomes. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the association between neighborhood contexts and cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (per 100,000) in U.S. counties. Cumulative number of COVID-19 cases gained from USA FACTS and variables related to neighborhood contexts gained from the 2018 5-Year American Community Survey at the county level. Data were analyzed using spatial autoregressive models. According to the present results, firstly, larger population, high poverty rate, higher % of bachelor's degree, higher % of no health insurance, higher employment rate, higher % of manufacturing jobs, higher % of primary industry jobs, higher % of commute by drove alone, higher % of foreign born, higher % of Hispanic, and higher % of Black are positively associated with higher cumulative number of COVID-19 cases. Secondly, higher income, higher % of cash assistance recipient, higher % of SNAP recipient, higher unemployment rate, higher % of commute by walked, higher % of Asian, and higher % of senior citizen are negatively associated with higher cumulative number of COVID-19 cases. In conclusion, there exist geographical differences in cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in U.S. counties, which is influenced by various neighborhood contexts. Hence, these findings emphasize the need to take various neighborhood contexts into account when planning COVID-19 prevention.


Sung, B. (2021). Gender difference in the association between e-cigarette use and depression among US adults, Osong Public Health and Research perspectives, 12(1), 13-19.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the association between e-cigarette use and depression and examine how this association is different by gender among US adults.

Methods: Data from the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Selected Metropolitan/Micropolitan Area Risk Trends was used, and included 174,351 of 230,875 US adults aged 18 years and older. Data were analyzed using the multivariate logistic regression models.

Results: After adjusting for age, race, education, income, marital status, employment status, smoking status, and physical activity, firstly, “current daily e-cigarette users” (AOR = 2.487, p < 0.001), “current non-daily e-cigarette users” (AOR = 1.623, p < 0.001), and “former e-cigarette users” (AOR = 1.573, p < 0.001) were associated with increased odds of depression compared with “never e-cigarette users.” Secondly, women were associated with increased odds of depression compared with men (AOR = 1.797, p < 0.001). Finally, male “current daily e-cigarette users” (AOR = 1.366, p < 0.01) were associated with increased odds of depression compared with female “never e-cigarette users.”

Conclusion: Thus, even though women tend to be more vulnerable to depression compared with men, e-cigarette use was positively associated with depression among both men and women.