SOCY Speaker Series: The Black Deaths America Treats as Normal

When: Thursday, November 12th 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Where: Zoom link:
Who: Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

Abstract: Many people are now familiar with the 1918 flu -- the last pandemic on the scale of the current crisis -- which ultimately killed perhaps 50 million people worldwide. Fewer know that white mortality during the 1918 pandemic was less than Black mortality nearly every year, as late as the 1930s. The same pattern is likely to hold during the COVID-19 pandemic: my demographic models show that, unless at least 400,000 excess white deaths occur, white mortality in 2020 will still be less than Black mortality has ever been. I explore the disjuncture between the actions undertaken to fight COVID and the actions *not* undertaken to fight racism, and argue for health-based reparations for racism in the United States. 

Bio: I am a formal demographer and a sociologist. My work integrates demographic methods, designed to shift perspectives between population-level patterns and individual-level transitions between social statuses, with a sociological approach to the study of inequality, in which multiple dimensions of stratification interact in specific settings.

My dissertation concerns mortality selection: disadvantaged members of a cohort tend to die at the youngest ages, leading cohorts to be increasingly selected for social advantages as they age. I use formal, statistical, and simulation analysis to reveal new challenges in recovering information about inequality in the presence of such selection. My work explores how demographic theory can be revised to incorporate more substantively realistic models of heterogeneity and inequality within populations.

My work brings formal demographic techniques to the sociology of inequality and sociologically informed concerns about hidden dimensions of racial inequality to formal demography

Sponsored By: CU Population Center, Department of Sociology (UCB)