Life Expectancy in the U.S. Varies by Race, Ethnicity, State


MONDAY, June 27, 2022 — Disparity in life expectancy (LE) across states is greater when race/ethnicity is considered, according to a study published online June 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Catherine O. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues estimated LE for selected race/ethnicity groups from 1990 to 2019 in a cross-sectional time-series analysis. LE at birth was examined for subgroups of people reporting Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, or non-Hispanic White race/ethnicity.

The researchers found that in 1990, disparities in LE across states were 8.0 and 12.2 years for females and males, respectively, while in 2019, they were 7.9 and 7.8 years. Disparities across states were 20.7 and 24.5 years for females and males, respectively, in 1990 when accounting for race/ethnicity groups, and decreased to 18.5 and 23.7 years, respectively, for females and males in 2019. Between 1990 and 2019, disparities across states increased within each race/ethnicity group, with the largest and smallest increases seen for non-Hispanic White males and Hispanic females, respectively. For most of the 23 states with estimates for all three groups, the disparity between race/ethnicity groups decreased within states, but increases were seen for females and males in seven and five states, respectively.

“Like other work that has examined longevity gaps by place in the United States, these findings highlight how stark differences in social and physical environments can drive health, well-being, and risk for death,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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