A Deadly Disparity: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap
69 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 23, 2009
We provide a comprehensive assessment of a striking disparity in the United States: The differential rate at which white and black infants die. We separate the overall mortality gap into three temporal components - fitness at birth, neonatal mortality, and post-neonatal mortality - and quantify the extent to which each of the components can be explained using a flexible reweighting method. Roughly 90 percent of the overall mortality gap is due to differential fitness at birth, little of which can be explained by racial differences in background characteristics. The remaining mortality gap stems from post-neonatal mortality differences, nearly all of which can be explained by background characteristics. The amount of the mortality gap that can be explained by background characteristics has declined sharply over the past two decades, largely due to background characteristics explaining less of the racial disparity in extremely low-fitness births.
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