Racial health disparities in the United States are well-known, and well-documented, but the extent of similar inequalities in other wealthy countries are comparatively understudied, even in neighboring countries like Canada. However, initial explorations have suggested that these inequalities are much smaller in America’s northern neighbor.

In this paper, the authors use the most comprehensive data available thus far to understand how and why racial health inequalities vary between the United States and Canada. This study adds to the existing literature by using data collected over a ten-year period, including a broader range of racial categories than previously examined, and explicitly comparing the United States and Canada, in an attempt to understand whether racial inequalities in health are modified by societal conditions.

Key Findings

  • Patterns of racial health inequalities differ across the United States and Canada: Black-white and Hispanic-white inequalities are larger in the United States.
  • Aboriginal-white inequalities are larger in Canada.
  • Socioeconomic factors do not explain inequalities across racial groups equivalently.