How reparations could boost Black wealth and health

Closeup of African American man in hat, from rear, on summer day

February 28, 2024 – Closing the wealth gap between Black people and white people could help eliminate health disparities facing Black Americans, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health’s Mary Bassett.

Bassett, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, spoke about how reparations—such as cash payments to individuals and investment in Black communities—could help facilitate gains in both wealth and health among Black people, in a two-part Q&A from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Bassett is leading a research project titled “Making the Public Health Case for Reparations.”

In the interview, Bassett noted that preliminary research findings suggest that eliminating the racial wealth gap could lead to substantial reductions in early death among Black Americans.

“We know that Black people have been systematically denied the opportunities for good health that white Americans enjoy,” said Bassett. “We also know that if we close the racial wealth gap and improve access to key resources that influence health, we can expect to dramatically improve the health and life expectancy of Black Americans.”

She added, “Perhaps if we framed reparations as something that would not only address the unfair gap in wealth but that would also help us all live long and healthy lives, we could build the support we need.”

Read the Q&A, part one: How Reparations Could Improve Black Health and Wellbeing

Read the Q&A, part two: Research Shows How Reparations Are a Prescription for Black Progress

Learn more

Experts: Reparations could help address health inequities (Harvard Chan School news)

Perspective: How Black reparations could end health disparities (Harvard Chan School news)

Photo: iStock/AntGor