Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths: Theories and Evidence
26 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2020 Last revised: 4 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 3, 2021
Non-white individuals are 1.75 times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 and 1.54 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white individuals. Using county-level data on COVID-19 cases by race, I find that average household size and public transportation use are statistically significantly correlated with case rates by race. Consequently, equalizing demographic, socio-economic, and environmental characteristics across racial groups, in particular average household size and percent elderly, is expected to reduce Black-white case rate differences by 66%, Hispanic-white case rate differences by 300%, and AIAN/NHPI-white case rate differences by 44.5%. Equalizing the strength of correlations between these characteristics and case rates across racial groups is expected to increase Black-white and AIAN/NHPI-white racial disparities, but decrease Hispanic-white disparities due to the strong relationship between average household size and case rates among the Hispanic population.
Keywords: COVID-19, race, racial disparities
JEL Classification: I10, I14, J1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation