How Many African Americans Are Missing? Differential Racial Mortality, Excess African American Deaths, and Lost Population Growth in the United States, 1900-2000

Mary Jackman, University of California, Davis
Kimberlee A. Shauman, University of California, Davis

The gap in mortality between whites and African Americans throughout the 20th century stands as a grim testament to the divergent standards of living that race has delivered in American social life. In 1900 the life expectancy of African Americans was12-16 years shorter that of whites, and although the gap declined by half over the century, it remained substantial in 2000. In this paper we examine two key questions about the consequences of the racial disparities in mortality. First, how many extra Blacks died over the course of the 20th century because of the enduring racial mortality gap? Second, what was the impact of those excess deaths on subsequent Black population growth throughout the century? To address these questions we use the component method of population projection to estimate the hypothetical rate of growth and size of the African American population under the counterfactual assumption of racial equality in mortality.

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Presented in Poster Session 6