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History of Black Mortality and Health before 1940

Douglas C. Ewbank
The Milbank Quarterly
Vol. 65, Supplement 1 (Part 1). Currents of Health Policy: Impacts on Black Americans (1987), pp. 100-128
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Milbank Memorial Fund
DOI: 10.2307/3349953
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3349953
Page Count: 29
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History of Black Mortality and Health before 1940
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Abstract

Most estimates of historical trends in mortality are imperfect, the more so when measuring relative improvements between races. Combining information from birth and death registration, slave records, and census data, gives a picture of uneven progress. Urban-rural and regional differences have diminished for all-but especially for whites-with sanitary, nutritional, and medical care improvements. By 1940 blacks in all parts of the country were experiencing mortality rates comparable to those that whites had experienced 20 years earlier. Persistent black-white mortality differentials undoubtedly relate to unequal educational, employment, and income determinants of access.

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