Segregation, Poverty, and Mortality in Urban African Americans

By Anthony P. Polednak | Go to book overview

5
Segregation and Poverty in Relation to Variation in Urban Black Mortality Rates

In this chapter, some specific MSAs and PMSAs (often collectively referred to as "MSAs" in this chapter) with unusually high and low mortality rates for blacks, or black/white ratios of mortality rates, for all causes of death combined are Certain ecologic data on characteristics of these MSAs are shown. Examination of these characteristics may help to explain the death rates observed.

Returning to the conceptual framework outlined in Chapter 1, the studies reviewed in this chapter consider both poverty rates and an index of segregation (the "index of dissimilarity," discussed in Chapter 2). Although education has been shown to be the most important social class variable in many studies of morbidity and mortality (Chapter 4), incomes for blacks and whites differ within the same level of education (Chapters 3 and 4). Therefore, poverty rates for black and white persons and income distributions for black and white households in each MSA and PMSA are used in the analyses in this chapter.

In some analyses, additional variables are those related to quality of life or "concentration" ("neighborhood") effects of segregation discussed in Chapter 3. In their classic study, Kitagawa and Hauser ( 1973) noted that the large variation in mortality rates within strata of the nonwhite population and among MSAs suggested that much of the "excess mortality" of blacks could be "reduced with increases in levels of living and lifestyles." "Lifestyle" appeared to encompass what would now be called "quality of life." If the associations between segregation and black mortality rates by MSA are affected by the inclusion of these "quality of life" (that is, neighborhood and housing) variables, then segregation may operate through these (or related) factors.

The main value of ecologic studies, using summary data for populations in political units (MSAs), is to point the way toward studies in which data are

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