Racial disparities in temperature related deaths in the U.S. between 1993 and 2005

Risto Conte Keivabu, European University Insitute
Ugofilippo Basellini, Max Planck Institute for demographic Research
Emilio Zagheni, Max Planck Institute for demographic Research

Extreme temperatures increase mortality in the population, but some individuals are more vulnerable than others. Here, we investigate how extreme temperatures affect mortality and how race stratifies this relationship in the U.S.. We use the Berkeley Unified Numident Mortality Database (BUNMD) dataset on approximately 15 million deaths in more than 3 thousand U.S. counties from 1993 to 2005 for individuals aged above 65. Also, we aggregated this data with meteorological information provided by Gridmet. We employed Poisson regression models with fixed effects to estimate how extreme temperatures affect mortality. Moreover, we added an interaction between temperature and race to test for a stratified effect of temperature on mortality. Results in the pooled sample show an increase in deaths with warm and hot days and especially cold days. Looking at differences by race, we find a comparable effect of cold on mortality but the effect size of hot days on mortality is largest for Blacks. Finally, we simulate the number of additional deaths that would have occurred between 1993 and 2005 if temperatures were to increase to those expected in 2051 based on the RCP4.5 emissions scenario. Our findings highlight great racial disparities in the effect of temperature change on mortality.

Keywords: Mortality, Inequality, Environmental studies, Geo-referenced/geo-coded data

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 102. Impact of Environmental Factors on Population Health and Wellbeing (II)