Even amid a pandemic, life expectancy among Whites in the United States far exceeds what Blacks experience every year, according to a new study.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, uses national life expectancy data and demographic models to estimate how many White deaths from Covid-19 would be needed for the White death rate in 2020 to reach the levels of the year with the lowest Black death rate ever recorded, which was in 2014.
That year, the rate of Black mortality was about 1,061 per 100,000, said Elizabeth Wrigley-Field of the University of Minnesota, who led this research.
For perspective, the most recent White mortality rate, in 2017, was about 899 deaths per 100,000.
Currently, the White Covid-19 age-adjusted mortality is about 28 deaths per 100,000 — meaning “US white deaths including Covid are still well below the best that Black mortality has ever been,” Wrigley-Field wrote in an email.
“These estimates make it plausible that, even in the Covid-19 pandemic, White mortality will remain lower than the lowest recorded Black mortality in the United States,” Wrigley-Field wrote in the paper. “In reality, COVID-19 deaths themselves are highly disproportionately experienced by Black Americans and will almost certainly further widen the racial mortality gap.”
“If Black disadvantage operates every year on the scale of Whites’ experience of COVID-19, then so too should the tools we deploy to fight it,” she added.