Change and continuity in health inequities related to skin color in Mexico


  • Luis Ortiz Hernandez Autonomous Metropolitan University
  • Cesar Ivan Ayala-Guzman Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana


We analyzed changes in disparities associated with ethnicity and skin color in lack of access to food and health in the Mexican adult population between 2002 and 2012 through the World Values Survey (WVS) databases, period during which disparities in life satisfaction decreased. In both years it was observed that, compared to whites, among dark and light brown people, the perception of poor and fair health status was more frequent. In 2012, the experience of food insecurity was more frequent among dark brown people; in addition, access to health services was lower among light and dark brown and indigenous people. These results show the need for policies aimed at reducing racist health disparities in Mexico, which not only affect indigenous people, but also dark brown people. Keywords: ethnicity; happiness; food; race and health; racism.


Paradies Y. A systematic review of empirical research on self-reported racism and health. Int J Epidemiol 2006;35(4):888-901.

Montenegro RA, Stephens C. Indigenous health in Latin America and the Caribbean. Lancet 2006;367(9525):1859-1869.

Nyarko AK, Lopez-Camelo J, E. Castilla E, Wehby LG. Explaining racial disparities in infant health in Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica 2014;35(4):305-316.

Moreno MG. Historically-rooted transnationalism: slightedness and the experience of racism in mexican families. J Intercultural Stud 2008;29(3):283-297.

Ortiz-Hernandez L, Compean S, Verde E, Flores MN. Racism and mental health among university students in Mexico City. Salud Pública Mex 2011;53(2):125-133.

Villarreal A. Stratification by skin color in contemporary Mexico. Am Sociol Rev 2010;75(5):652-678.

Flores R, Telles E. Social stratification in Mexico: disentangling color, ethnicity, and class. Am Sociol Rev 2012;77(3):486-494.

Perreira KM, Telles EE. The color of health: skin color, ethnoracial classification, and discrimination in the health of Latin Americans. Soc Sci & Med 2014;116:241-250.

Krieger N. The science and epidemiology of racism and health. In: Withmarsh I, Jones D, eds. What’s the Use of Race?. Massachusetts, England.: MIT Press; 2010:281.

Ortiz-Hernández L, Pérez-Salgado D, Ayala-Guzmán CI. Posición socioeconómica, discriminación y color de piel en México. Perf Latinoam 2018; 26 (51): 215-239.

Clark R, Anderson NB, Clark VR, Williams DR. Racism as a stressor for African Americans. A biopsychosocial model. Amer Psychol 1999;54(10):805-816.

Van Dijk TA. Racismo y discurso en América Latina. Barcelona, España: Gedisa; 2007.

Harris CI. Whiteness as property. Harv Law Rev 1993;106(8):1707-1791.

Smith SS. Race and Trust. Annu Rev Sociol 2010;36:453-475.

Dovidio JF, Penner LA, Albrecht TL, Norton WE, Gaertner SL, Shelton JN. Disparities and distrust: the implications of psychological processes for understanding racial disparities in health and health care. Soci Sci & Med 2008;67(3):478-486.

Story WT. Social capital and health in the least developed countries: A critical review of the literature and implications for a future research agenda. Glob Public Health. 2013;8(9):983-999.

Kraus MW, Piff PK, Keltner D. Social Class as Culture: The convergence of resources and rank in the social realm. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2011;20(4):246-250.

Boyce WT, Obradovic J, Bush NR, Stamperdahl J, Kim YS, Adler N. Social stratification, classroom climate, and the behavioral adaptation of kindergarten children. PNAS. 2012;109 Suppl 2:17168-17173.

Sapolsky RM. The influence of social hierarchy on primate health. Science. 2005;308(5722):648-652.

Zimmerman MA. Psychological empowerment: issues and illustrations. Am J Community Psychol. 1995;23(5):581-599.

Richman LS, Lattanner MR. Self-regulatory processes underlying structural stigma and health. Soc Sci Med. 2014;103:94-100.

Association of World Value Survey. World Value Survey Mexico 2000. En: World Value Survey Mexico 2000. Visitado el 15 de junio del 2013. Disponible en:

Association of World Value Survey. World Values Survey wave 6. Visitado el 15 de junio del 2013. Disponible en:

Idler EL, Benyamini Y. Self-rated health and mortality: a review of twenty-seven community studies. J Health and Social Behav 1997;38(1):21-37.

Stuff JE, Casey PH, Szeto KL, et al. Household food insecurity is associated with adult health status. J Nutr. 2004;134(9):2330-2335.

Karlson KB, Holm A, Breen R. comparing regression coefficients between models using logit and probit: A new method. Centre fos Strategic Research in Education;2010.

Castro AS, V.; Kaufman H. Assessing equitable care for Indigenous and Afrodescendant women in Latin America. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2015;38(2):96-109.

San Sebastian M, Hurtig AK. Review of health research on indigenous populations in Latin America, 1995-2004. Salud publica de Mexico. 2007;49(4):316-320.

Vázquez G, M.F. Q. Los indígenas autoadscritos de México en el censo 2010: ¿revitalización étnica o sobreestimación censal? Papeles de Población. 2015;21(86):171-218.

Telles E, Flores R. Not Just Color: Whiteness, Nation, and Status in Latin America. Hahr-Hisp Am Hist R. 2013;93(3):411-449






Original Research