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

Listed author(s):
  • Elder Todd E

    ()

    (Michigan State University)

  • Goddeeris John H

    ()

    (Michigan State University)

  • Haider Steven J

    ()

    (Michigan State University)

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.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 11 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 1-44

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:33
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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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  7. 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, vol. 42(4), pages 589-597, February.
  8. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2007. "Inverse probability weighted estimation for general missing data problems," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 1281-1301, December.
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  10. W. Frisbie & Seung-eun Song & Daniel Powers & Julie Street, 2004. "The increasing racial disparity in infant mortality: Respiratory distress syndrome and other causes," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(4), pages 773-800, November.
  11. Fishback, Price V. & Haines, Michael R. & Kantor, Shawn, 2001. "The Impact of the New Deal on Black and White Infant Mortality in the South," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 93-122, January.
  12. Busso, Matias & DiNardo, John & McCrary, Justin, 2009. "New Evidence on the Finite Sample Properties of Propensity Score Matching and Reweighting Estimators," IZA Discussion Papers 3998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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