The Texas Resource Center on Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) is based at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) School of Public and Population Health (SPPH). It is a collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin. The overall purpose of the Texas RCMAR is to provide an infrastructure that facilitates the development of research on health and aging in minority populations with emphasis on the Hispanic population in the United States as well as in Mexico. Special focus is given to mentoring researchers from underrepresented populations. RCMAR will work with the National Archive for Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), within ICPSR to disseminate research. Read more about the Significance of studying Hispanic populations.

RCMAR - Significance of studying Hispanic populations

  • Significance


    The population of the United States has continued to grow in recent decades fueled to a large extent by immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico. The Hispanic population is expected to grow from around 55 million today to approximately 120 million in 2050, or around 30 percent of the total population (Passel and Cohn, 2008). The Hispanic population is also aging rapidly with persons 65 and older projected to increase from 2.9 million in 2010 to around 17.5 million in 2050 or around 19.8 percent of the total older population of the United States (Vincent and Velkoff, 2010). The proposed RCMAR investigators have demonstrated a long-standing interest in the health of older people, especially of older Mexican Americans in Texas and the Southwestern United States.

    The literature on aging in the Hispanic and Mexican American populations has had an interesting history. Beginning with the mid-1980s, an “epidemiological paradox” was identified to reflect a relatively favorable health and mortality profile of the Hispanic population of the Southwest (Markides and Coreil, 1986; Hayes- Bautista, 1992; Franzini et al, 2001). By the early 1990’s the literature began suggesting a Hispanic mortality advantage which was confirmed by the first-ever life tables for the Hispanic population for 2006 which showed a 2.5-year life expectancy at birth advantage for Hispanics over non-Hispanic Whites and a 7.7-year advantage over African Americans (Arias, 2010). It is widely assumed that the Hispanic mortality advantage is driven by immigrant health selection coupled with superior health behaviors and strong family systems and it is especially present in the Mexican-origin population which accounts for about two-thirds of the Hispanic population (Markides and Eschbach, 2011).

    Despite the Mexican American population’s greater longevity, the literature has provided consistent evidence that by the time they reach old age persons of Mexican origin become more disabled because of changes in health behavior but also because of high rates of poverty, obesity, diabetes, as well as a lifetime of substandard medical care (Tovar et al, 2007; see also Hayward et al, 2014). Data from the Hispanic EPESE for those aged 75 and over have suggested recent increases in disability among Mexican Americans which have been accompanied by increases in diabetes as well as cognitive impairment (Beard et al, 2009; Markides and Gerst, 2011). Despite considerable progress in the literature, considerable gaps in knowledge remain especially the kind of knowledge needed to improve the health status of elderly Mexican Americans. In addition, there has been a scarcity of minority investigators who bring a unique and important perspective to this research.


    Angel, J.L., Rote, S., Brown, D., Angel R., Markides, K. Nativity status and sources of care assistance among elderly Mexican-Origin Adults. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 29: 243-258, 2014. PMC4304657

    Arias, E., (2010). United States life tables by Hispanic origin. Vital and Health Statistics, Washington, D.C.; National Center for Health Statistics, 2(152).

    Beard, H.A., Al Ghatrif, M., Samper-Ternent, R.A., Gerst, K., and Markides, K.S. Treends in diabetes prevalence and diabetes-related complications in older Mexican Americans from 1993-1994 to 2004-2005. Diabetes Care 2009, 32(12): 2112-1.

    Flores, D.V., Rote, S., Angel, J., Chen, N. Downer, B., Markides, K.S. Depressive Symptoms in Child Caregivers of Very Old Mexican Americans (in review).

    Franzini, L., Ribble, J.C., Keddie, A.M., Understanding the Hispanic Paradox. Ethnicity and Disease, 11: 496-518, 2001.

    Hayward, M.D., Hummer, R.A., Chiu, C.T., Gonzalez-Gonzalez, C., & Wong, R. (2014). Does the Hispanic Paradox in U.S. Adult Mortality Extend to Disability? Population Research and Policy Review, 33(1), 81-96. doi:10.1007/s11113-013-9312-7

    Hayes-Bautista, D., (1992). Latino health indicators and the underclass model: from paradox to new policy models. In A. Furino (ed.) Health Policy and the Hispanic, 32-47. Boulder, CO. Westview Press.

    Markides, K.S. & Coreil, J. (1986). The health of Hispanics in the Southwestern United States – An epidemiologic paradox. Public Health Reports. 101, 253-265.

    Markides, K.S. & Eschbach, K. (2011). Hispanic Paradox in Adult Mortality in the United States. In E. Crimmins and R. Rogers (Eds) International Handbook of Adult Mortality. 225-238 New York Springer Publishers.

    Markides, K.S. & Gerst, K. (2011). Immigration, Health and Aging in the United States. In R. Settersen and J. Angel (Eds), Handbook of the Sociology of Aging. New York: Springer, 103-116.

    Passel, J.S., Cohn, D. (2008). U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050. Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center.

    Tovar, J.J., Angel, R.J., Eschbach, K., Espino, D.V., Markides, K.S. (2007). Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly; selected longitudinal findings. Aging Health, 3(3): 225-331.

    Vincent, G.K., Velkoff, V.A. (2010). The next four decades: The Older population in the United States: 2010-2050: US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau.

    Wong, R., Diaz, J.J., Espinoza, M. Health Care Use among Elderly Mexicans in the U.S. and in Mexico: The Role of Health Insurance. Research on Aging, 28(2); 393-408, 2006.
  • Cores


    Three cores support RCMAR, the Administrative Core, the Analysis Core, and the Research Education Component (REC). The Administrative Core oversees and promotes activities. The Analysis Core provides methodological and statistical support to promote the research and career development of minority aging investigators. The REC’s overall aim is to increase the capacity of faculty at UTMB, UT Austin, and elsewhere to conduct rigorous research on minority aging and health disparities in general.

    Administrative Core

    The Administrative Core is responsible for the overall direction and operation of the Center. It coordinates activities to assure that the other cores and affiliated institutions interact optimally to accomplish the center objectives: to expand the aging research workforce through mentoring and recruiting scientists from all backgrounds, including underserved areas.

    The specific aims of the Administrative Core are to maintain information flow of activities and decisions, create mechanisms and procedures to ensure that Texas RCMAR cores interact to maximum benefit, and work with the Research Education Core to oversee the solicitation, review and selection of pilot studies for funding.

    Analysis Core

    The Analysis Core consists of experts with a broad range of complementary specialties, including biostatisticians, gerontologists, sociologists, and demographers studying aging.

    The initial priority has been to support Texas RCMAR pilot studies in research design, measurement, and data analysis. We focus on the harmonization of measurements for cross-national studies and use of longitudinal data from NIA-funded surveys to study the trajectory of physical function, cognitive function, social support, frailty, disability, health care utilization, and survival among older Hispanics in the US and Mexico.

    In addition, the core consolidates the available national survey-Medicare linkage datasets and provides expertise in analyzing these data sets to RCMAR scholars. Linking surveys to Medicare files provides rich information and resources for studying how social, psychological, economic, and behavioral factors impact the trajectories of health care and health outcomes. The core resources are available to scholars conducting research on Hispanics and other minority aging groups.

    The specific aims of the Analysis Core are to:

    1. Provide measurement, statistical and methodological support for pilot research designed to increase the number of minority investigators conducting diversity aging research.
      1. Participate in the design, monitoring, data management, and statistical analysis planning for pilot research projects.
      2. Provide analytical mentoring to RCMAR scholars.
    2. Develop data resources, measurement, analytical approaches, and investigate the relationship between social, psychological, economic, behavioral factors and health care and well-being in longitudinal and cross-national surveys and survey-Medicare linkage data sets.
      1. Documentation and dissemination of measurement protocols for measures used in Hispanic aging datasets created by Texas RCMAR investigators.
      2. Assistance in developing data use agreements and security protocols for use of Medicare data sets for the studies of aging of Hispanics and other minority populations.
      3. Coordinate data extraction and analytical file generation for aging investigators and provide statistical consultation especially on the use of multilevel and longitudinal models for analysis of survey-Medicare linkage data sets.
      4. Adopt and develop innovative approaches in aging research.

    Research Education Component

    The REC funds pilot grants by minority investigators as well as others interested in becoming independent investigators in the field of minority and Hispanic aging.

    The specific aims of the REC are to:

    1. Support pilot research designed to increase the number of minority faculty who ca obtain external funding to conduct diversity aging research.
    2. Develop and offer opportunities to promote career development in diversity aging research.
    3. Strengthen diversity aging research through continual mentoring activities.

    To accomplish these aims, the REC provides pilot research funding in diversity aging research with a primary focus on Mexican origin older adults. It uses an active aging conference to provide both networking opportunities and quantitative workshops to faculty, fellows, and students to increase their skills and visibility in diversity aging research. It will also launch a mentoring system for junior faculty and more senior faculty who are new to diversity aging research, providing them with structured mentoring and career development opportunities.


Annual Conference

Each year, scholars will develop pilot research projects and participate in an annual two-day conference on minority aging in conjunction with the annual International Conference on Aging in the Americas (ICAA). The ICAA network of investigators from the United States and Mexico will help the Texas RCMAR to identify and encourage junior scholars to apply for pilot grants as well as to identify students, fellows, and faculty who should attend the RCMAR conference at ICAA.

Texas RCMAR is funded by the National Institute on Aging, Grant Number P30AG059301