The Effects of Race on State Infant Mortality Rates

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2021

Authors

Gaudette, Rory

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A universal indicator of the quality of a nation's healthcare system is its infant mortality rate, or the number of deaths of children that die before their first birthday per 1,000 live births. The United States, despite having the largest economy and being a haven for medical innovation, is ranked thirty third out of the thirty six OECD countries in infant mortality. Given the disparate social and economic conditions at work throughout the country, the United States' efforts to lower its infant mortality rate should be focused at the state level. One contributing factor may be racial bias. Given the existing evidence that people of color receive inferior medical treatment to white patients, I predict that states which are composed of higher racial minority populations, particularly higher Black populations, will have correspondingly higher infant mortality rates, holding factors such as states' median income and proportion of the population with health insurance constant. Through increased federal loan forgiveness and scholarship funds available to potential medical students of color, as well as greater focus within medical school on awareness of personal biases and how they may affect treatment decisions, the government can work to diminish the correlation between higher minority populations and higher infant mortality in a state, thereby working also to decrease the national rate.

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