Myers Receives Grant to Study Racial Disparities in Drowning Deaths
October 1, 2023

Professor Samuel Myers Jr. has been awarded a two-year, $417,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study racial disparities in drowning deaths

While conventional explanations for these disparities focus on individual behaviors and characteristics,  Myers and the project team hypothesize that structural factors such as systemic racial discrimination play outsized roles in explaining the racial disparities. 

"The Effectiveness of Public Policy Interventions in Reducing Racial Disparities in Drowning" has the overarching objective of better understanding which public policies to reduce deaths and injuries work, where they work, and for whom they work.

The project will focus on five broad policy interventions to guide data collection: 

* Boating regulations 
* Swimming pool standards (public and private) 
* Regulation of the labor market supply of lifeguards 
* Learn-to-swim initiatives
* Personal flotation device regulations

To assess the effects of these policy interventions, the project team will create a national database of state and local legislation, mandates, certifications, regulations, and locally funded interventions. 

The project offers a novel approach to measuring and detecting adverse effects of systemic or structural racism by examining what might be called “nice racism” or “color-blind racism,” where public policy interventions may not be intended to harm racial or ethnic minority groups but have the impact of producing intergroup inequalities.

Co-collaborators include Associate Professor Julian Wolfson in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, and researchers at the University of Victoria and UCLA.