The Tuskegee Experiment Kept Killing Black People Decades After It Ended
almost 2 years ago
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"Since the experiment, the authors point out, various public-health researchers have noticed that when they interview African-Americans about their views on the health system, they will often bring up Tuskegee unprompted — it left a deep scar on the country, yes, but on this population in particular. Why should you trust doctors, and particularly white doctors, when the government can allow something this awful to happen? Which raised an extremely depressing question for Alsan and Wanamaker, and one that no one had yet fully tried to answer: If you tried to measure the damage done not by the Tuskegee experiment itself, but by the aftermath, in the form of mistrust for the medical establishment, as news of it spread through various African-American communities, what would the results be?"
"The results, summed up in the paper’s abstract: We find that the historical disclosure of the study in 1972 is correlated with increases in medical mistrust and mortality and decreases in both outpatient and inpatient physician interactions for older black men. Our estimates imply life expectancy at age 45 for black men fell by up to 1.4 years in response to the disclosure, accounting for approximately 35% of the 1980 life expectancy gap between black and white men."
"It’s worth pointing out that this is a working paper, meaning it hasn’t been peer-reviewed (though based on the acknowledgements on the front page, the authors got informal feedback from a small army of other researchers). And as with any other quantitative analysis of a complicated subject, it’s inevitable other researchers will pop their heads in and nitpick — there are tons of technical details in the paper’s PDF, for those with the appetite and expertise to dig through them. But the effects here are so large that it’s quite unlikely anyone will point to some flaw that topples Alsan and Wanamaker’s extremely depressing, important core findings."
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