Life under Pressure: Intergenerational Origins of Hypertension among African Americans

20 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2015 Last revised: 25 Nov 2015

See all articles by Garrett Senney

Garrett Senney

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Kent Thornburg

Oregon Health and Science University - Center for Developmental Health at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 3, 2015

Abstract

Medical and social scientists have traditionally viewed heart disease as the outcome of current or recent conditions such as poverty, smoking and obesity. Guided by recent medical research, a new understanding of the developmental origins of chronic disease has emerged. In this paper, we apply developmental origins concepts, also known as the fetal origins hypothesis, to understand how intergenerational socioeconomic history can help explain disparities in hypertension across states of the United States for African Americans. Specifically, southerners and especially southern blacks experienced generations of poverty following the Civil War, but by the middle of the twentieth century witnessed rapid income growth and other changes related to industrialization. The intergenerational poverty experience prepped the major organs of developing fetuses in cohorts born after the middle of the century for lean living conditions, but also primed them for adult chronic disease when they encountered greatly improved nutritional conditions as older children and adults.

Keywords: Developmental Origins, Hypertension, African American

JEL Classification: I15, J15, N30

Suggested Citation

Senney, Garrett and Thornburg, Kent and Steckel, Richard H., Life under Pressure: Intergenerational Origins of Hypertension among African Americans (September 3, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655819 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2655819

Garrett Senney (Contact Author)

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ( email )

400 7th St SW
Washington, DC 20219
United States

Kent Thornburg

Oregon Health and Science University - Center for Developmental Health at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute ( email )

3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Portland, 97239-3098
United States

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

1945 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43210-1172
United States
614-292-5008 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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