In a unique study, led by faculty at the University of Maryland School of Health in College Park, researchers found that higher Black mortality rates occur in areas that exhibit the most intense levels of racism. The researchers determined the level of racism by the proportion of Google searches in a given area that used the word “nigger.” The researchers noted that in all likelihood not all searches involving the term were made by racists but the authors state that they assume that “areas with a greater concentration of these searches have higher levels of racism overall.”
David H. Chae, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the lead author of the study, stated that “racial disparities in health and disease represent a significant public health concern. Research suggests that racism is a major culprit that contributes to the gap in mortality between Blacks and Whites. Our study points to the utility of an Internet-search based measure to monitor racism at the area-level and assess its impact on mortality.”
The results show that Black mortality was higher in areas where racist Google searches were the most prevalent. And the differences in Black mortality rates persisted even when the results were adjusted for overall White mortality rates, educational levels, and poverty rates.
The paper, “Association Between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality,” was published in the online journal PLOS ONE. It can be viewed here.