Study: Racial inequities in US could be as deadly as COVID-19

White Americans still have better mortality rates and life expectancy during the pandemic than Black Americans do during years without a global health crisis, according new research cited by NPR.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines U.S. mortality data since 1900. Study author Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, PhD, found that in 2020, 700,000 to 1 million more white Americans would have to die for it to mirror the best year for life expectancy for Black Americans. 

The best mortality year for Black Americans was 2014, when average life expectancy was 75.3 years, according to NPR. White Americans had that life expectancy in 1989.

"For COVID-19 to raise mortality as much as racial inequality does, it would need to erase two to three decades of mortality progress for whites," Dr. Wrigley-Field wrote in her analysis.

Racial disparities in the U.S. affect every aspect of life, including healthcare. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals of color have been disproportionately affected by the virus (here's eight findings on the connection between race and healthcare). Some long-standing reasons why racial disparities persist in healthcare include poor access to care, historically racist housing policies and higher rates of underlying medical conditions, according to NPR.

To read Dr. Wrigley-Field's study, click here.

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