Disparity in age at death based on race/ethnicity

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Data from the Benton County coroner shows clear disparities in the health outcomes of people from different races and ethnicities in the same region. The Benton County coroner reported 37 deaths between May 22 and June 25. The Arkansas Department of Health has only reported 18 of those.

The coroner’s data gives a more complete look at gender, age, race and ethnicity. The deceased included in this report resided in Benton, Washington, and Carroll counties, but they all passed away in Benton County.

The average age of death for Covid-19 deceased in Benton County overall is 64.9 years of age. From this baseline, it varies widely based on the race and ethnicity of the deceased.

 

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Pacific Islanders have the youngest average age of death, with females dying younger than males. The overall average age at death for both genders is 48.2 years of age, with females at 46.8 years and males at 49.3 years. 

The overall average age of death for those who are White and Non-Hispanic is 83 years. That’s a difference of 35 years between the White/Non-Hispanic and Pacific Islander groups. White Non-Hispanic males died younger than females, at an average age of 80.8 years versus 87.5 years for females.

The average age of death for those of Hispanic ethnicity fell in between Pacific Islanders and White/Non-Hispanic, with an overall average age of 66.6 years at time of death. The average age of death for Hispanic males was 64.3 years, younger than Hispanic females at 73.5 years.

We can see that Pacific Islanders and those of Hispanic ethnicity are not just dying younger, they are also dying at greater rates. Fourteen of the county’s 37 deaths, or 38%, were Pacific Islanders. In the 2019 census estimates, Pacific Islanders make up 2.8% of Washington County’s population and 0.7% of Benton County’s population.

While female Pacific Islanders had a younger average age of death, there were slightly fewer deaths compared to males (6 compared to 8).

Hispanic deaths make up 22% of Benton County’s deaths. That’s higher than the 17.1% of the population they represent in Benton and Washington Counties. There is a greater gender disparity in Hispanic deaths compared to Pacific Islander deaths, with six of the Hispanic deaths occurring in males versus two in females.

The White, Non-Hispanic population represents 32% of the county’s deaths, but it makes up 70% of the overall population in Washington County and 73% in Benton County. Twice as many males (8) died compared to females (4). 

This is the only county for which I have this level of detail, but it’s crucial that we track disparities across our state. We have a clear health crisis that is stripping away mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, teachers and friends from our beautifully diverse communities.

I’ve asked the Arkansas Department of Health to provide me with the date of death, age, race, gender, ethnicity, and home county of all deaths. I don’t want names. I don’t want identifying information. ADH has refused. I’ll keep trying, because this data is a key part of understanding the toll Covid-19 in taking in our communities.

 

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Rob Wells

Rob Wells, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media.

ABOUT ARKANSAS COVID


The University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media operates this site as an independent source of news and as a community service for Arkansas residents. Students produce the content here under the supervision of Rob Wells, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Journalism. The data presented here is collected at roughly the same time each day from the Arkansas Department of Health website.

Questions? Email arkansascovid@gmail.com