Abstract

Research on the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has consistently found disproportionately high mortality among ethnoracial minorities, but reports differ with respect to the magnitude of mortality disparities and reach different conclusions regarding which groups were most impacted. We suggest that these variations stem from differences in the temporal scope of the mortality data used and difficulties inherent in measuring race and ethnicity. To circumvent these issues, we link Social Security Administration death records for 2010 through 2021 to decennial census and American Community Survey race and ethnicity responses. We use these linked data to estimate excess all-cause mortality for age-, sex-, race-, and ethnicity-specific subgroups and examine ethnoracial variation in excess mortality across states and over the course of the pandemic's first year. Results show that non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives experienced the highest excess mortality of any ethnoracial group in the first year of the pandemic, followed by Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks. Spatiotemporal and age-specific ethnoracial disparities suggest that the socioeconomic determinants driving health disparities prior to the pandemic were amplified and expressed in new ways in the pandemic's first year to disproportionately concentrate excess mortality among racial and ethnic minorities.

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