‘Racial inequality may be as deadly as COVID-19’, analysis finds

By Maria Godoy, NPR

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality rates and life expectancy are far better for white Americans than they are for Black people during normal, non-pandemic years, according to an analysis published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis, which looked at U.S. mortality statistics back to 1900, finds an additional 1 million white Americans would have to die this year in order for their life expectancy to fall to the best-ever levels recorded for Black Americans — back in 2014. That year, the average life expectancy for African Americans was 75.3 years — similar to the average life expectancy for white Americans back in 1989, says study author Elizabeth Wrigley-Field.

“It’s as though Blacks have just missed out on the last three decades of [life expectancy] progress,” says Wrigley-Field, a demographer and infectious disease historian at the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota.