This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Latino Life Expectancy Exceeds That of White Non-Hispanics in US

Even though non-Hispanic whites are the dominant economic and political group in the United States, as a group their life expectancy is lower than for Latinos and Asians. These patterns have been evident for some time, and discussed widely in the demographic literature, but the higher life expectancy of Latinos was given an official imprimatur this week by the first government report to actually calculate life tables for Hispanics compared to non-Hispanics. The National Center for Health Statistics, located within the Centers for Disease Control, has published "United States Life Tables by Hispanic Origin," with the following overall results:

Life expectancy at birth for the total population in 2006 was 77.7 years; 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 life expectancy advantage at birth of 2.5 years over the non-Hispanic white population and 7.7 years over the non-Hispanic black population.
This publication does not address the Asian population, but age-adjusted death rates for Asians have consistently been higher than for all other groups in the US for some time now. Thus, we see that groups dominated by immigrants have higher life expectancy than non-Hispanic whites or blacks. Some of this is almost certainly due to migration selectivity of healthier people, and some of it may be due to the less healthy returning to their country of origin to die, and thus not being picked up US vital statistics. There is concern, of course, that for the children of immigrants Americanization may be bad for their health and the life expectancy advantage will erode due to a fast food diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle. At the other end of the spectrum, the results highlight the continuing health disadvantage of blacks in America, and there is an emerging literature linking this to the stress associated with discrimination.

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