Posted on July 6, 2023

Justice Jackson’s Incredible Statistic

Ted Frank, Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2023

{snip} In a dissent from last week’s ruling against racial preferences in college admissions, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson enumerated purported benefits of “diversity” in education. “It saves lives,” she asserts. “For high-risk Black newborns, having a Black physician more than doubles the likelihood that the baby will live.”

A moment’s thought should be enough to realize that this claim is wildly implausible. Imagine if 40% of black newborns died—thousands of dead infants every week. But even so, that’s a 60% survival rate, which is mathematically impossible to double. And the actual survival rate is over 99%.

{snip}A footnote cites a friend-of-the-court brief by the Association of American Medical Colleges {snip} It, in turn, refers to a 2020 study whose lead author is Brad Greenwood {snip}

{snip} It examines mortality rates in Florida newborns between 1992 and 2015 and shows a 0.13% to 0.2% improvement in survival rates for black newborns with black pediatricians  {snip}


There, the most highly specified model still shows an improvement in black newborn survival. But if you know how to read the numbers—the authors don’t say it—it also shows black doctors with a statistically significant higher mortality rate for white newborns, and a higher mortality rate overall {snip}