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Study: Racial Wealth Gap Leads to Shorter Life Expectancy for Black Americans

The racial wealth gap can be downright physically harmful for Black Americans, according to a recent study in JAMA Network Open.African American Health

The study – done by researchers at Harvard Medical School, the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Drexel University, and Duke University – found that the odds of dying for Blacks were 26% higher than for white counterparts and that much of that life expectancy gap can be attributed to wealth differences.

Data of 33,501 Black and white middle-aged Americans was examined.

On average, white households have more than a 6 to 1 advantage over Black households in mean wealth ($980,549 to $142,330), leading to racial health inequity.

And eliminating that wealth gap – caused by the legacy of slavery and subsequent discriminatory policies and practices – with reparations will help close racial inequities in health and longevity, the study found.

“Our findings add to the compelling moral case for reparations,” said Dr. Kathryn Himmelstein, study co-author and infectious disease fellow at Harvard's Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's Hospitals. “Compensating Black families for the economic legacy of slavery and discrimination would do more than heal their finances – it would improve their health and add years to their lives.”


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