This study focused on Cameron County to highlight the socioeconomic disparity within a racially homogenous area of the United States. Issues of race and ethnicity, and the intersection of these characteristics with socioeconomic status, are difficult to discuss, however the systemic segregation of populations and resources are clearly illustrated in this research. Lower socioeconomic status, noted in this study as individuals with “annual household income… $17,830 or less,” is correlated with higher rates of undiagnosed diabetes and health complications.
This study used a sampling frame from the residents in Brownsville, a border city with a dominant Mexican American population with 8 international border crossing points, used 2000 US Census data to determine the socioeconomic status and clustering of residents. Using a stratified cluster sampling method, this study had 810 respondents from 47 census tracts, aged 35-64. These respondents were divided into those with a lower socioeconomic status, lower SES focused in the first quartile in Figure 1, and a higher socioeconomic status, or those with an annual household income from $24,067 to $31,747 in the third quartile of Figure 1, the median within Cameron County. This study used a geographic information system to create a visual representation of households based on income and density. The respondents’ households were geocoded using coordinates gathered by a GPS, and referenced street addresses on maps within ESRI ArcMap software.
Less than 25% of respondents had private health insurance, 5% used Medicaid, and 5% used Medicaid or Medicare as well as another form of health care. More than 50% of the respondents in either SES were within the “obese” range. 10% of respondents in the lower SES were informed they had undiagnosed diabetes through this study. In respondents ages 55 to 64, shown in Figure 2, those with lower SES had significantly higher rates of diabetes. Lower SES were significantly associated with undiagnosed diabetes. However, those with lower socioeconomic statuses are far less likely to have a regular physician, or even the expendable income to treat medical problems.
Problematically, this study did not address the distribution or availability of medical care within the city and census tracts. The availability of parks, medical clinics, schools, or sources of healthy foods have a great impact on the health of the population. Brownsville, like many border cities in the Southern United States, has a large number of factories that employ workers for laborious jobs without providing living wages or manageable conditions. While the respondents were long term residents of the United States, this study did not explain the impact of the“Mexican culture”, which “can also move freely across the border”, simply planning to study the acculturation process in following years, implying a cultural source and not systemic problem in the United States.
AR, S. J., Pérez, A., Brown, H. S., & Reininger, B. M. Socioeconomic Status and Prevalence of Obesity and Diabetes in a Mexican American Community, Cameron County, Texas, 2004-2007.