Excess Black Mortality in the United States and in Selected Black and White High-Powered Areas

The authors analyzed census and death certificate data from six high-poverty regions, including three urban areas (Southside Chicago, Eastside Detroit and Harlem), and three rural regions (Black Belt Alabama, Delta Louisiana, Central Cleveland). These data were compared to national mortality data on working age Blacks and Whites.

Key Findings:

  • Mortality rates among Black men in high-poverty urban areas remain extremely high. Only 50 to 62 percent of 16-year-old urban Black men in high-poverty areas survive to age 65, compared to 62 to 67 percent of Black men in high-poverty rural eras, and 80 percent of White men in high poverty urban areas.
  • Urban Black populations experienced declines in working-age mortality between 1990 and 2000. However, these improvements were smaller than the improvements in national mortality rates for White men and women.
  • The reduction in working-age mortality among urban Black populations was linked to a dramatic decline in the number of homicides between 1990 and 2000. Death rates from circulatory disease and cancer remained high in this population.

This comprehensive examination of mortality provides insight into the causes of mortality both nationally and in high-poverty areas for White and Black populations.