Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Fernando Riosmena

Second Advisor

Robert Buffington

Third Advisor

William Travis

Abstract

Although Hispanics have rates of poverty similar to African Americans, their health is more comparable to that of wealthier non-Hispanic whites. This Hispanic Health Paradox has been well documented in highly urbanized cities like Chicago and Los Angeles where researchers have additionally found that Hispanics living in highly segregated co-ethnic enclaves exhibit even better health than their counterparts in more integrated areas. Previous studies have attributed this barrio effect to higher levels of social cohesion and more social ties. This study examined the Hispanic Health Paradox and, more specifically, the barrio advantage as it pertains to rural areas in the Southwest where neighborhood dynamics, such as levels of social cohesion and number of social ties, operate distinctly from inner-city communities. After looking at the health of elderly Mexican-Americans in both large cities and small rural villages in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico, I found that there is no barrio advantage in rural communities even though levels of social cohesion are higher there than in urban neighborhoods. These results show that when speaking about the barrio advantage, it is important to acknowledge that it is simply an urban phenomenon and that social cohesion does not explain its effect. As the population of Hispanics burgeons, and is becoming increasingly segregated, in rural areas of the Southeast and Midwest, the future of the Hispanic Health Paradox is at stake.