Free DP Download 16 July 2020 - COVID-19, RACE, AND REDLINING

Thursday, July 16, 2020

COVID-19, RACE, AND REDLINING: African-Americans are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 mortality rates, which are exacerbated by persistent historical influences of racial segregation
Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico         
CEPR DP No. 15103 | July 2020

African-Americans are overrepresented in terms of Covid-19 related deaths, since---as of June 16, 2020---they constitute 35% of the dead, so that they are dying at a rate 1.3 times higher than their population share. Furthermore, historically lower-graded neighbourhoods suffer higher mortality rates, driven by the presence of African-Americans. This suggests a persistent influence of the racial segregation induced by the discriminatory lending practices of the 1930s (‘Redlining’), by way of a diminished resilience of the black population to the shock represented by the Covid-19 outbreak. Far from being determined by genetic and biological factors, such vulnerability can be linked to socioeconomic status and household composition, as the likely channels through which the legacy of the past manifests itself.

These are the central conclusions of a new CEPR study by Graziella Bertocchi and Arcangelo Dimico, who present new evidence on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on African Americans in the United States. Using daily individual and geographical mortality data by the Cook County Medical Examiner, of which Chicago is included, the authors provide the first evidence that race does affect Covid-19 outcomes. Among the findings: 

  • In Cook County blacks are overrepresented in terms of Covid-19 related deaths, constituting 35% of the dead, dying at a rate 1.3 times higher than their population share. 
  • after the outbreak of the epidemic, historically lower-graded neighbourhoods display a sharper increase in mortality, driven by blacks, while no pre-treatment differences are detected. 
  • There is a persistent influence of the racial segregation induced by the discriminatory lending practices of the 1930s, by way of a diminished resilience of the black population to the shock represented by the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • The main channels of transmission are socioeconomic status and household composition, whose influence is magnified in combination with a higher black share.
  • Not only are blacks disproportionately hit by Covid-19, but they also started to succumb to it earlier than other groups.

The evolution of the epidemiological curve has revealed an extraordinary degree of racial and ethnic segregation in the United States, with different groups displaying profoundly distinct patterns even in the timing of their exposure to the epidemic. It is possible that blacks become infected as much as the rest of the population, but they experience a faster progression through the stages of the disease, because of pre-existing medical conditions and/or access to health. It may also be the case that blacks were more exposed from the beginning of the outbreak, because of their occupations and living conditions

 


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