Men were more than twice as likely as women to die in the Chicago heat wave (once we control for age with a statistical age-adjustment procedure), but women represented 45 % of total victims (chapter1, page 77).
The map of the Chicago community areas that experienced the highest heat-related death rates shows that the community areas hit hardest is concentrated on the South and West sides of the city, the historic Black Belt where the city’s African Americans have been concentrated and segregated. This map is striking because it illustrates a block of high-death related areas, beginning at Burnside in the south and banking west before it reaches the most affluent areas on the North Side where residents had less difficulty protecting themselves from the heat. Although several predominantly African-American community areas had exceptionally low heat wave mortality areas, there was a clear clustering of deaths in Chicago’s segregated black regions (chapter 1, page 81).
The heaviest concentration of high-death areas in the region immediately south of the Loop, beginning at the Near South Side, progressing south into the old Black Belt and beyond to the newer African American communities such, as Woodlawn and Chathman, east and farther south; another pocket with high mortality rates starts west of the Loop in the New West Side area, extending through the western portion of the city (chapter2, page 82).
Tiefu Shen and his colleagues at the Illinois Department of Public Health found that relative to other regions, community areas with high levels of violent crime and high proportions of elderly residents were significantly more likely to experience heat wave deaths (Chapter2, page85).
Quantitative evidence about heat waves in Chicago has shown that certain community areas characteristics, such as poverty, high senior populations, lack of vegetation, and high crime, are associated with high heat wave mortality rates (Chapter2, page 85).
Public health researchers had found that Chicago’s African American faced the greatest risk of mortality in the heat wave, while Latinos were most likely to survive (Chapter2, page 87).
Epidemiologists from the CDC estimate that “more than 50% of deaths related to the heat wave could have been prevented id each home had had a working air conditioner, “ and surely this would be an effective public health strategy (Chapter3, page 161). The social autopsy of the heat wave points to four important but seldom discussed problems with current political approaches to social protection. First is the organizational mismatch created by increasing delegation of key health and support services to paramilitary governmental organizations, such as the fire and police departments, where administrators and officers are rarely committed to “soft service” work and the department infrastructure is poorly suited to the jobs. A second problem is the expectation that city residents, including the elderly and frail, will be active consumers of public goods, smart shoppers of services made available in the market rather than “citizens” entitled to social protection. This market model of governance creates a systematic service mismatch, whereby people with the weakest capabilities and greatest needs are the least likely to get them. Third, the social distance between city administrators and the disadvantaged…