The Federal Effort to Desegregate Southern Hospitals and the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap

from Health Economics at https://bit.ly/3p6XQPQ on November 9, 2020 at 11:14PM


In 1966, Southern hospitals were barred from participating in the Medicare program unless they discontinued their long-standing practice of racial segregation. Using data from five Deep South states and exploiting county-level variation in Medicare certification dates, we find that gaining access to an ostensibly integrated hospital had no effect on the Black-White infant mortality gap, although it may have discouraged small numbers of Black mothers from giving birth at home attended by a midwife. These results are consistent with descriptions of the federal hospital desegregation campaign as producing only cosmetic changes and illustrate the limits of anti-discrimination policies imposed upon reluctant actors.