Black-White health inequalities in Canada at the intersection of gender and immigration

Andrew C. Patterson, Gerry Veenstra


OBJECTIVES: Intersectionality theory proposes that each combination of social categories derived from gender, race and nationality, such as immigrant White man or native-born Black woman, is associated with unique social experiences. We tested the potential of intersectionality theory for explicating racial inequalities in Canada by investigating whether Black-White health inequalities are conditioned by gender and immigrant status in a synergistic way.

METHODS: Our dataset comprised 10 cycles (2001–2013) of the Canadian Community Health Survey. We used binary logistic regression to model Black- White inequalities in hypertension, diabetes, self-rated health, self-rated mental health and asthma separately for native-born women, native-born men, immigrant women and immigrant men.

RESULTS: After controlling for potentially confounding factors we found that immigrant Black women had significantly higher odds of hypertension, diabetes and fair/poor self-rated health than immigrant White women. Native-born Black women and immigrant Black men had higher odds of hypertension and diabetes than native-born White women and immigrant White men respectively, and native-born White women were more likely than native-born Black women to report asthma. There were no statistically significant health differences between native-born Black and White men. Socio-economic status, smoking, physical activity and body mass index were implicated in some but not all of these racial health inequalities. None of the three-way interactions between racial identity, gender and immigration status was statistically significant.

CONCLUSION: We found relatively high risks of ill health for Black Canadians in three of the four samples. Overall, however, we found little support for the intersectional hypothesis that Black-White health inequalities in Canada are conditioned by gender and immigrant status in a synergistic way.


Canada; Black; White; intersectionality; racial health inequalities; gender; immigration; socioeconomic status; health behaviours; body mass index

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