Reparations for Black American descendants of persons enslaved in the U.S. and their potential impact on SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
In the United States, Black Americans are suffering from a significantly disproportionate incidence of COVID-19. Going beyond mere epidemiological tallying, the potential for racial-justice interventions, including reparations payments, to ameliorate these disparities has not been adequately explored.
We compared the COVID-19 time-varying Rt
curves of relatively disparate polities in terms of social equity (South Korea vs. Louisiana). Next, we considered a range of reproductive ratios to back-calculate the transmission rates βi→j
for 4 cells of the simplified next-generation matrix (from which R0
is calculated for structured models) for the outbreak in Louisiana. Lastly, we considered the potential structural effects monetary payments as reparations for Black American descendants of persons enslaved in the U.S. would have had on pre-intervention βi→j
and consequently R0
Once their respective epidemics begin to propagate, Louisiana displays Rt
values with an absolute difference of 1.3-2.5 compared to South Korea. It also takes Louisiana more than twice as long to bring Rt
below 1. Reasoning through the consequences of increased equity via matrix transmission models, we demonstrate how the benefits of a successful reparations program (reflected in the ratio βb→b
) could reduce R0
While there are compelling moral and historical arguments for racial-injustice interventions such as reparations, our study considers potential health benefits in the form of reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk. A restitutive program targeted towards Black individuals would not only decrease COVID-19 risk for recipients of the wealth redistribution; the mitigating effects would also be distributed across racial groups, benefiting the population at large.
Richardson, ET; Malik, MM; Darity, WA; Mullen, AK; Morse, ME; Malik, M; Maybank, A; Bassett, MT; Farmer, PE; Worden, L; Jones, JH
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