The NYT writes:
Precisely why the black infant mortality rate is so high is a mystery that has eluded researchers even as the racial disparity continues to grow in cities like Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Boston.
In Pittsburgh, where the unemployment rate is well below the national average, the infant mortality rate for black residents of Allegheny County was 20.7 in 2009, a slight decrease from 21 in 2000 but still worse than the rates in China or Mexico. In the same period the rate among whites in the county decreased to 4 from 5.6 — well below the national average, according to state statistics. ...
And the article goes on, in the standard fashion, to talk about the black-white gap from various perspectives.
Recent studies have shown that poverty, education, access to prenatal care, smoking and even low birth weight do not alone explain the racial gap in infant mortality, and that even black women with graduate degrees are more likely to lose a child in its first year than are white women who did not finish high school. Research is now focusing on stress as a factor and whether black women have shorter birth canals.
My guess would be that the differences would be part nature, part nurture. The nature side looks to me like at base, an r-K differential. The nurture side, however, needs investigating because matters could be improved. For example, what is the role of STDs?
The problem with most conventional thinking about racial differences is what I call the midget-giant gestalt issue, after the time when I was at UCLA and I saw a midget talking to a normal sized guy. But then a second midget walked up and I suddenly realized the midgets were six-footers and the normal sized guy was 7'-4" 290 pound basketball player Mark Eaton.
Similarly, American race discourse is obsessed with black-white comparisons, which often don't get very far for lack of a third party to provide perspective.
Thus, a table accompanying the article shows that the infant mortality rate among Hispanics is slightly lower than among whites, much less among blacks. (Click on the table above to see more columns.) That poor Hispanics have much, much lower infant mortality than poor blacks is not a new development. I noticed that back in the early 1990s. But there is no reference in this 2011 article to Hispanics. You would think that this would be a key avenue of research because Hispanics have, evidently, found cheap ways to have healthy babies.
There are now 50,000,000+ Hispanics in the U.S. We're not supposed to notice their failures. Can we at least notice their successes?