A new study shows that Black Americans are more likely to die from the coronavirus than their white counterparts. Angelina Bambina/Shutterstock.com

MIT Study Finds Race an Important Factor in Determining Deaths from COVID-19

A new MIT Sloan School of Management study has found evidence that race may be just as important as underlying health conditions in determining someone’s likelihood of dying from COVID-19.

The study, by Christopher R. Knittel, the George P. Shultz professor of applied economics at MIT Sloan and Bora Ozaltuna, graduate research assistant in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) lab looks at a number of factors that lead to death from COVID-19, including patients’ race, age, health and socioeconomic status, and other environmental factors. The research found that among these factors, race, on its own, contributes to one’s chances of dying from COVID-19.

The study, which looks at county-level COVID-19 death rates from April 4–May 27, controlled for patients’ income, weight, diabetic status and smoking habits. Still, they found African American people were more likely to die from the Coronavirus than white people. The study notes that obesity rates, ICU beds per capita and poverty rates did not have any detectable correlations to death from the disease. These findings mean that other, less easily-measurable social factors explain the racial disparities.

“Why, for instance, are African Americans more likely to die from the virus than other races? Our study controls for patients’ income, weight, diabetic status, and whether or not they’re smokers,” Knittel said in an MIT press release. “So, whatever is causing this correlation, it’s none of those things.”

The average county level death rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. has been 12 per 100,000 people. That rate doubles for every ten percentage point increase in Black population for that county, the research revealed.

“We must examine other possibilities, such as systemic racism that impacts African Americans’ quality of insurance, hospitals, and healthcare, or other underlying health conditions that are not in the model, and then urge policymakers to look at other ways to solve the problem,” Knittel said.

The paper has been released as a Center for Energy and Environmental Policy working paper and is in the process of being released as a working paper on medRxiv.

Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…