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

Author

Listed:
  • Elder Todd E

    () (Michigan State University)

  • Goddeeris John H

    () (Michigan State University)

  • Haider Steven J

    () (Michigan State University)

Abstract

We provide a unified 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, conditional neonatal mortality, and conditional post-neonatal mortality—and quantify the extent to which each of the components can be predicted using a flexible reweighting method. Almost 90 percent of the overall mortality gap is due to differential fitness at birth, little of which can be predicted by racial differences in background characteristics. The remaining mortality gap stems from conditional post-neonatal mortality differences, nearly all of which can be predicted by background characteristics. The predictability of the mortality gap has declined substantially over the past two decades, largely because the mortality gap among extremely low-fitness infants is increasingly unrelated to background characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Elder Todd E & Goddeeris John H & Haider Steven J, 2011. "A Deadly Disparity: A Unified Assessment of the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-44, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:33
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William J. Collins & Melissa A. Thomasson, 2004. "The Declining Contribution of Socioeconomic Disparities to the Racial Gap in Infant Mortality Rates, 1920–1970," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 746-776, April.
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    8. Geronimus, Arline T., 1996. "Black/white differences in the relationship of maternal age to birthweight: A population-based test of the weathering hypothesis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 589-597.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elder, Todd E. & Goddeeris, John H. & Haider, Steven J., 2016. "Racial and ethnic infant mortality gaps and the role of socio-economic status," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 42-54.
    2. Gary Solon & Steven J. Haider & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2015. "What Are We Weighting For?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 301-316.
    3. Alice Chen & Emily Oster & Heidi Williams, 2014. "Why is Infant Mortality Higher in the US than in Europe?," NBER Working Papers 20525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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