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Mortality, Inequality and Race in American Cities and States

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  • Angus Deaton
  • Darren Lubotsky

Abstract

A number of studies have found that mortality rates are positively correlated with income inequality across the cities and states of the US. We argue that this correlation is confounded by the effects of racial composition. Across states and MSAs, the fraction of the population that is black is positively correlated with average white incomes, and negatively correlated with average black incomes. Between-group income inequality is therefore higher where the fraction black is higher, as is income inequality in general. Conditional on the fraction black, neither city nor state mortality rates are correlated with income inequality. Mortality rates are higher where the fraction black is higher, not only because of the mechanical effect of higher black mortality rates and lower black incomes, but because white mortality rates are higher in places where the fraction black is higher. This result is present within census regions, and for all age groups and both sexes (except for boys aged 1 9). It is robust to conditioning on income, education, and (in the MSA results) on state fixed effects, and cannot plausibly be attributed to variations in the local provision of health care.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8370.

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Date of creation: Jul 2001
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Publication status: published as Deaton, Angus and Darren Lubotsky. "Mortality, inequality and race in American cities and states." Social Science and Medicine 56, 6 (2003): 1139–53.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8370

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  1. Victor R. Fuchs & Mark McClellan & Jonathan Skinner, 2001. "Area Differences in Utilization of Medical Care and Mortality Among U.S. Elderly," NBER Working Papers 8628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Michael Grossman, 1976. "The Correlation between Health and Schooling," NBER Chapters, in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 147-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650, May.
  4. Miller, Douglas L. & Paxson, Christina, 2006. "Relative income, race, and mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 979-1003, September.
  5. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  7. David A. Jaeger & Susanna Loeb & Sarah E. Turner & John Bound, 1998. "Coding Geographic Areas Across Census Years: Creating Consistent Definitions of Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 6772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Re-Examining the Evidence of an Ecological Association between Income Inequality and Health," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9922, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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  1. Wilkinson and Pickett misrepresent research again
    by Tino in Super-Economy on 2010-07-12 12:46:00
  2. Does Income Inequality Cause Poor Health?
    by Brendan Saloner in inequalities on 2011-08-11 00:23:17
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