A Deadly Disparity: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap

69 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2009

See all articles by Todd E. Elder

Todd E. Elder

Michigan State University

John Goddeeris

Michigan State University

Steven J. Haider

Michigan State University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 23, 2009

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Elder, Todd E. and Goddeeris, John and Haider, Steven J., A Deadly Disparity: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap (October 23, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1493334 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1493334

Todd E. Elder (Contact Author)

Michigan State University ( email )

110 Marshall-Adams Hall
Department of Economics
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-355-0353 (Phone)

John Goddeeris

Michigan State University ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Steven J. Haider

Michigan State University - Department of Economics ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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