People Of Color Disproportionately And More Seriously Affected
By Dolores Quintana
While many might believe that the pandemic is over, Covid 19 continues to cause deaths every day. A study published by Journal of the American Medical Association has found that not only has Covid caused a huge death toll in the United States, but the pandemic has actually lowered life expectancy in California by at least two years as reported by Princeton.edu news.
According to the study, “life expectancy declined from 81.40 years in 2019 to 79.20 years in 2020 and 78.37 years in 2021.” Professor Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University led the study which also found that a disproportionate number of people of color are affected more heavily by the loss of life expectancy that is attributable to the income gap.
The study notes that “among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian, Black, and White populations, life expectancy declined 5.74 years among the Hispanic population, 3.04 years among the non-Hispanic Asian population, 3.84 years among the non-Hispanic Black population, and 1.90 years among the non-Hispanic White population between 2019 and 2021.”
In general, “life expectancy declined from 81.40 years in 2019 to 79.20 years in 2020 and 78.37 years in 2021. Life expectancy differences between the census tracts in the highest and lowest income percentiles increased from 11.52 years in 2019 to 14.67 years in 2020 and 15.51 years in 2021.”
What the researchers also looked at was decreases in life expectancy relative to income. What they found was that in both 2020 and 2021, decreases in life expectancy in California were larger in the lowest income census tracts. Specifically, the report said, “Compared with 2019, life expectancy in 2020 decreased by 3.79 years (from 75.90 to 72.11 years) in the lowest income percentile, while it decreased by 0.64 years (from 87.42 to 86.78 years) in the highest income percentile.”
Janet Currie, the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University said, as quoted by Princeton.edu news, “Our results highlight the disproportionate burden the pandemic placed on low-income people and people of color.”
Hannes Schwandt said, “We’ve had indications that the pandemic affected economically disadvantaged people more strongly, but we never really had numbers on actual life expectancy loss across the income spectrum. I am shocked by how big the differences were, and the degree of inequality that they reflected.”