Death and taxes: Examining the racial inequality in premature death across neighborhoods

Anita Zuberi, Department of Sociology, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Samantha Teixeira, School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA.


Legacies of residential segregation have led to deep inequities felt in communities of color across the nation and have been established as a fundamental cause of health disparities. Historical practices such as the redlining of majority Black neighborhoods in cities have led to long term consequences on these communities, including concentrated poverty and disadvantage. Research shows a strong connection between living in a poor neighborhood and poorer health outcomes, including early death, but questions remain about what characteristics of poor neighborhoods drive these disparities. We combined data from the American Community Survey with administrative data from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to examine the difference in premature death in Black and white neighborhoods (N = 87) using measures of socioeconomic disadvantage and less commonly studied neighborhood features including vacancy, tax delinquency, and property sales and conditions. Results suggest that features of abandonment, particularly the percent of tax delinquent properties in a neighborhood, may capture an important structural difference between majority Black and majority white neighborhoods with impacts beyond socioeconomic disadvantage on community health. We discuss implications of these findings for research and practice.