Being a racist is obviously bad for your social standing, but it turns out racism is just as damaging to your physical health. A study printed in the American Journal of Public Health concludes that people "living in communities with higher levels of racial prejudice were at an elevated risk of mortality."
These results held up, "independent of individual and community sociodemographic characteristics and individually held racist beliefs." In other words, even if the community as a whole is wealthy, its racist members still run higher risks of mortality. In addition, you don't have to be racist as an individual to experience increased risks—just living in a racist community was enough.
To conduct the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Harvard looked at U.S. survey data on racial attitudes from 1993 to 2002. They then linked each participant's response to death records through 2008. Altogether they gathered date from about 11,000 people living in 100 communities across the country, the New York Daily News reports. By 2008 about 15 percent of participants had died.
The survey questions they looked at asked whether black people "had worse jobs, income or housing due to less in-born ability to learn; and whether black people lacked motivation to get out of poverty." They also asked participants to state if one race was more or less intelligent or lazy than another. Of course, a study like this relies on participants answering the questions honestly, which might not have been the case. But if anything, participants were more likely to answer in a way that would make them look less racist for fear of judgment.
Overall, living in a community with anti-black prejudice increased the likelihood of death by 24 percent. The study showed that structural discrimination "not only damages the low-status group members but also majority group members who live in the same community," said Yeonjin Lee, the study's main author.