Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Andrea K. Henderson


Recent research on how state-policy affects population health outcomes suggests that state contexts are important sites for producing health disparities. In the United States different domains of state policy are historically linked to the livelihood of Black Americans and enacted within a racist system designed to maintain white supremacy. Despite this history and evidence of racial inequities in health outcomes linked to institutional discrimination for Black and white adults, scholars have yet to examine whether racism-related state policies affect the wellbeing of Black and white Americans. Combining a dataset of racism-related state policies with a nationally representative data of older Black and white adults (HRS) and other state-level data, this dissertation aims to determine whether racism-related policies in the domains of voting and criminal justice are related to reports of depressive symptoms and allostatic load using race-stratified regression models. Results show that for white adults, living in states with more restrictive racism-related voting policies is associated with fewer reports of depressive symptoms and lower levels of allostatic load. For Black adults, living in states with more restrictive racism-related voting and criminal justice policies is associated with greater reports of depressive symptoms. However, these policies are not associated with physiological wellbeing for Black adults.


© 2022, Calley Elizabeth Fisk

Included in

Sociology Commons