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A new report shows that residents of Black-majority communities live about four years less than the national average, and that Covid expanded the number.
The racial difference in life expectancy is an indicator of disparities that have existed throughout the pandemic, according to a report by Brookings.
The National Center for Health Statistics published data showing a 1.5-year decline in national life expectancy in 2020, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which took the lives of approximately 375,000 Americans that year. The Brookings report shows that white Americans’ life expectancy declined by 1.2 years during the early pandemic; for Black Americans that number was about 3 years.
In fact, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Black people are about 1.1 times more likely than white people to contract Covid-19, about 2.8 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus, and two times more likely to die from it.
The Brookings report says these disparities help to explain why, when adjusting for age, Black people account for about 22% of the nation’s Covid-19 deaths despite only comprising 12.8% of the population.
Brookings highlights two findings on hyperlocal variation in life expectancy prior to the pandemic:
Neighborhood life expectancy corresponds with its demographics. Brookings compared life expectancy across neighborhoods where the population of Black residents ranged from less than 1% to over 50%.The report shows that the national-level neighborhood life expectancy decreases as the Black population percentage increases. For example, neighborhoods with a 10% Black population or higher have an overall life expectancy lower than the national average of about 79 years.
Black-majority neighborhoods also have a lower life expectancy by about four years, and neighborhoods with a Black population of less than 1% have a higher life expectancy by around one year compared to the national average, the report says.
Neighborhood life expectancy disparities exist relative to the surrounding area. Brookings found that Black-majority neighborhoods had relatively lower life expectancy when compared to the aggregate metro area in which those neighborhoods were located, and the difference in life expectancy between a Black-majority neighborhood and its surrounding metro area can be as high as nine years.
For more information from the Brookings report click here.
Andre Claudio is an assistant editor at Route Fifty.