Retraction: Police Shootings Not Bad For Black Babies After All

Last week I wrote about a study showing that when police shot an unarmed black man, it affected the birthweight of black babies born nearby. The proximate cause was that shootings produced stress in the mothers, which in turn affected birthweight.

However, it turns out that there were errors in the data used by the study. The author, Joscha Legewie, describes them here. The original chart of the data is shown below on the left and the corrected chart is on the right:

As you can see, the original chart shows that nearby shootings cause birthweight to be reduced by as much as 50 grams. However, when the data is corrected the loss in birthweight is about half that and isn’t statistically significant. What’s more, the trendline for the first and second trimesters is almost identical to the trendline for the third trimester. This is suspicious since stress is known to have only a small effect on birthweight by the third trimester.

In any case, Legewie has retracted his article and, of course, I do too.

We Recommend


Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.