Economics/Class Relations

Inequity’s toll for Black Americans: 74,000 more deaths a year

These would seem to be more issues of poverty than race per see, although poverty and race are obviously issues that overlap.

By Andis Robeznieks, American Medical Association

The country’s pervasive health inequities were evidenced by a tragic tally of 74,402 excess deaths, on average, among Black people compared with white people each year between 2016 and 2018, according to an analysis of all-cause mortality rates in the 30 largest U.S. cities.

But rates vary widely. In Chicago, for example, racial inequities in mortality rates resulted 3,804 excess Black deaths annually, compared to just six excess deaths a year in El Paso, Texas.

“Inequities in mortality are not inevitable,” said Fernando De Maio, PhD, with DePaul University’s department of sociology, and a co-author of the study published in JAMA Network Open.

“If health equity can be achieved in some cities, why not all?” said De Maio, director of research and data use for the AMA Center for Health Equity. “Our results are an indication of the toll of structural racism in U.S. society, but they also give us hope that better, and more equitable, patterns of population health are possible.”

Another study that found a link between high levels of income inequality in a community and higher levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths was co-written by De Maio and sociologist Tim F. Liao, PhD, with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and published the same day in JAMA Network Open.

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