African-American Life Expectancy Gap Narrows But Disparities Persist

Although the black-white life expectancy gap has decreased over the past 10 years, further narrowing will require interventions that address specific conditions responsible for the remaining gap.

What researchers found: The life expectancy gap between blacks and whites narrowed by 25 percent between 1993 and 2003 largely due to reductions in mortality from HIV, unintentional injuries and homicide among men, and heart disease among women. Despite this, in 2003, the difference in life expectancy at birth between blacks and whites remained substantial at 6.3 years for men and 4.5 years for women.

Why we chose this publication: Findings from this study highlight reasons for the black-white life expectancy gap. This knowledge can guide targeted public health and health care interventions that address specific conditions responsible for the gap.

What researchers studied: To determine life expectancy changes from 1983 to 2003, researchers calculated mortality rates by age and cause of death for black and white individuals using data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System.

Publication information:
“Trends in the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap in the United States, 1983-2003”

Harper S, Lynch J, Burris S and Davey Smith G
Journal of the American Medical Association, 297(11): 1224-1232, March 2007