Along Party Lines: Examining the Democrat and Republican Gap in COVID-19 Mortality Rates in U.S. Counties

Fares Alghanem, Aparna Lhila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives. To quantify the extent to which differences in Republican and Democrat counties’ observable characteristics explain the partisan gap in COVID-19 mortality in the United States.<br>Methods. We analyze COVID-19 mortality between February 1 and December 31, 2020, per 100,000 population for all counties. We employ the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method to estimate the extent to which partisan differences in county characteristics – demographic, socioeconomic, employment, health status, healthcare access, and area geography, explain the partisan gap in COVID-19 mortality.<br>Results. Among 3,140 counties, Republican-governed counties had significantly higher COVID-19 mortality rates than did Democrat-governed counties (126 ± 86 vs. 97 ± 80 per 100,000 population, p <0.001). Of the total gap of 28.9 (95% CI 9.3 – 48.3) deaths per 100,000, 14.5 deaths (95% CI 1.0 – 28.1) are explained by partisan differences in observable county characteristics. Partisan differences in county demographics and health status account for 9.1 and 3.6 deaths, respectively. Results are sensitive to alternate definitions of the counterfactual.<br>Conclusion. Policies aimed at improving population health and lowering racial disparity in COVID-19 outcomes may reduce the partisan gap in COVID-19 mortality, too.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
StateSubmitted - 1800

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