The elimination of health disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status is a key public health priority in the United States. Health disparities indicate the fault lines of inequalities in well-being in a population. In a society that is striving for both overall excellence as well as excellent health within all subgroups, disparities symbolize systematic, unequal access to some of society's most important resources, including the length of life itself. In addition, for those subgroups with less favorable health and higher mortality levels compared to the most advantaged subgroups, there is a substantial amount of human suffering, increased health care costs, and loss of economic productivity that could potentially be alleviated if health disparities did not exist. Large numbers of children, youth, and adult family members in the U.S. population face substantial challenges to healthy development from poverty, family instability, and disadvantages associated with minority status.
PRC researchers are addressing important scientific questions about the social conditions and behaviors that promote or interfere with the health and well-being of children, adults, and families. This work is guided by a life course perspective that integrates demographic and population constructs with individual and family-level processes and transitions across the lifespan. PRC researchers collectively investigate all portions of the life course - from conception, pregnancy and infancy, to childhood and adolescence, and throughout adulthood. Throughout this work, PRC researchers emphasize knowledge that informs policy, prevention, and optimal points of intervention, and they are nationally renowned for their pioneering research on race/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health.