County-level socioeconomic disparities in COVID-19 mortality in the United States

Magali Barbieri, University of California, Berkely
Denys Dukhovnov, University of California, Berkeley

We estimated COVID-19 mortality rates and the number of years of life lost to the virus during each of the three epidemic waves in 2020 for all US counties grouped into five socioeconomic categories, using preliminary data from the Johns Hopkins University and from the Centers for Disease Control. Our results demonstrate clear inequalities in COVID-19 mortality emerging throughout the course of the epidemic. During March-May 2020, COVID-19 mortality was highest in the quintile of counties most socioeconomically advantaged and lowest in the two most disadvantaged quintiles but the pattern reversed during June-August and widened substantially by September-December, such that COVID-19 mortality rates were three times higher in the bottom quintile of counties than in the top quintile. Similarly, an increasingly clear gradient of years of life lost (YLL) to COVID-19 by socioeconomic quintile emerged through 2020. The population in the top socioeconomic quintile would have lost 2.52 years if the mortality conditions of March through May had persisted throughout the entire year, 1.13 years under the conditions of June-August, and 1.33 years under those of September-December. The corresponding figures for the bottom (least affluent) quintile would have been 1.20, 1.64 and 2.15 years.

Keywords: COVID-19, Inequality, Mortality

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 186. Demographic Analysis of the Covid-19 Pandemic