Census Race Categories and the Mortality of Mixed-Race American Men in the 20th Century

Maria Osborne, University of California Berkeley

Despite substantial research on racial disparities in mortality, little is known about the mortality experiences of mixed-race and multiracial groups in the United States. In this paper, I use census data from the early 1900s, which included mulatto as a race category, linked to Social Security Administration death records to study the all-cause mortality of black, white, and mixed black/white men. I find that in the aggregate, all men of African descent, both mixed-race and single race, experience worse mortality than whites. Additionally, mulattos may have a mortality advantage over blacks. Within particular social groups, however, the mortality outcomes of mulattos often are not meaningfully distinct from other racial groups.

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 Presented in Session 41. The Intersection of Health and Race in the United States