Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paradoxically, US Hispanics Outlive Whites And Blacks

Hispanics in the US, who are generally poorer, less educated and more likely without medical insurance or access to medical care, have a longer life expectancy than the rest of the US population. The general consensus is that more income, more education and more medical care are associated with a longer life expectancy and thus the Hispanic paradox.

From "United States life tables by Hispanic origin," by Elizabeth Arias, Ph.D., Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Health Stat 2(152), 2010.
Life expectancy at birth for the total population in 2006 was 77.7 years. Life expectancy was 80.6 years for the Hispanic population, 78.1 years for the non-Hispanic white population, and 72.9 years for the non-Hispanic black population. The Hispanic population has a mortality advantage at birth of 2.5 years over the non-Hispanic white population and 7.7 years over the non-Hispanic black population.
The results show that the Hispanic population has higher life expectancy at birth and at almost every subsequent age than the non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black populations. The finding of higher life expectancy for the Hispanic population seems paradoxical because on average the Hispanic population has lower socioeconomic status than the non-Hispanic white population. Given the relationship between socioeconomic status and mortality, a mortality profile similar to that of the non-Hispanic black population would seem more likely for the Hispanic population.

This seemingly paradoxical result has been found in numerous research studies using a variety of data sources, including state and national vital statistics, local surveys, and national linked mortality follow-up surveys, such as the NLMS and the National Health Interview Survey–Multiple Cause of Death (NHIS–MCD) linked data. All such studies have consistently found a Hispanic mortality advantage over the non-Hispanic white population even when differences in demographic and socioeconomic characteristics are taken into account. Research into the causes of this paradox has been extensive although not conclusive.

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