Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Causes the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap?

Life expectancy at birth was 75.1 years for blacks and 78.9 years for whites in 2010—a gap of 3.8 years. The National Center for Health Statistics has now determined the causes of death that create most of this gap: heart disease (which accounts for 1 full year of the life expectancy gap), cancer (0.6 years), homicide (0.5 years), diabetes (0.3 years), and perinatal conditions (another 0.3 years).

Higher mortality rates from these causes of death reflect not only African Americans' more limited access to medical care, but also a lack of opportunity that leads to more homicide, teen pregnancy, and premature births. But it's getting better. The black-white life expectancy gap has narrowed considerably as the socioeconomic status of blacks has improved. In 1970, the life expectancy gap was 7.6 years.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, How Did Cause of Death Contribute to Racial Differences in Life Expectancy in the United States in 2010?

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