Racial Choice Pathways to Distress
Racial choice, an aspect of racialization via racial categorization, may position Latinx individuals into differential pathways to well-being or distress. The psychological distress rates of Latinxs differ by ethnic group, racial choice and Medicaid coverage. However, little is known about how these factors relate to one another to impact psychological distress. The three studies of this dissertation use nine years of pooled data (N=34,201) from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2010-2018. The NHIS is a national and annual survey that is telephonically administered to track the health and mental health status of individuals living in the United States. Study 1 examined the relationship between racial choice (Black, Other vs. White) and psychological distress (moderate, serious levels vs. low) among panethnic and ethnic group (Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican) samples of Latinx individuals. Findings revealed that Black racial choice is significantly related to higher levels of distress for Mexicans and Cubans, but not for Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Study 2 examined the moderating role of ethnic group in the relationship between Medicaid coverage, racial choice and psychological distress. Findings revealed that Medicaid coverage decrease the odds of distress for Black-Puerto Rican and -Dominican respondents compared to Black-Mexicans and -Cubans. Study 3 examined whether immigrant status and socioeconomic status (SES) are significant correlates to racial choice. Findings revealed that immigrant status and low SES have significant but different associations with choosing Black as a race over White. These findings show that racial choice matters in the lives of Latinxs and may create pathways to different levels of distress. Special attention on the reasons behind Latinx racial choice is needed to further understand the impact of racialization on Latinx mental health. The findings of each study are further discussed in their corresponding chapters.