In the U.S., racial disparities in health outcomes are attributed to racial bias and socioeconomic inequalities. It remains unknown, however, whether racial disparities in mortality persist among those with a higher socioeconomic status (SES) and occupational prestige. As the celebrity population is characterized by high levels of individuals in these two categories, researchers investigated the survival differences between black and white film celebrities in a paper published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research.
Researchers extracted data from Wikipedia, a web-based, open-source encyclopedia, and analyzed 5,829 entries of randomly selected American film actors and actresses born between 1900 and 2000. They found that celebrities were non-Hispanic, white, male and born in the U.S. The mean age at death for black celebrities was 6.4 years shorter than that for white celebrities. Black celebrities had a faster all-cause mortality rate using Kaplan-Meier survival function estimates and a log-rank test. However, in a Cox semiparametric regression, there was no longer a significant difference in survival times between black and white celebrities. Co-authors noted that further research is needed to examine if racial disparities in mortality are diminished at higher levels of SES among more representative populations.
Hannah Speaks, Alyssa Falise, and Kaitlin Grosgebauer, alumni of the MSPH program at the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences, Dr. Dustin Duncan, associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr. Adam Carrico, associate professor at the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences, co-authored the study.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 27