The color of death: causes of death according to race in the State of Sao Paulo, 1999 to 2001

OBJECTIVE: Assuming that ethnicity might be a basis for social differentiation and that such differences might represent vulnerability to sickness, this study attempts to verify whether race or ethnic origin have an effect on mortality patterns. METHODS: The Sao Paulo State death register was examined from 1999 to 2001 in a contingence table of causes according to the 10th ICD and race or skin-color categories (White, Black, Mulatto and others). Chi-square test was used to check the association between skin-color and cause of death; residual analysis was used to elicit statistically significant excessive occurrences when each category of cause of death and skin color was combined; and correspondence analysis was used to examine overall relations among all categories considered. RESULTS: A total of 647,321 valid death registers were analyzed, among which 77.7% were of Whites, 5.4% of Blacks, 14.3% of Mulattoes and 2.6% of others. A significant association between skin color or race and cause of death was found. It may be observed that, although Blacks and Mulattoes present a similar death profile, on the contrary of Whites and others, which could be aggregated into a single category, the former appear in distinct positions on the multidimensional map presented. Except for mal defined causes, which characterize only the deaths of Blacks, the other causes of death within this group are common to both Blacks and Mulattoes, varying however, in intensity and as to the order in which they appear death. CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of mortality according to race or color revealed that death has a color. There is a White death, which has, among its causes, sicknesses, which, although variable, are nothing more than sicknesses. There's a Black death, which is not caused by sicknesses but by external causes, complications in labor and delivery, mental disorders and ill- defined causes.

Mortality; Social inequity; Race/color; Correspondence analysis


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