Race/Ethnicity and U.S. Adult Mortality: Progress, Prospects, and New Analyses

Robert A. Hummer, University of Texas at Austin
Juanita Chinn, University of Texas at Austin

Although there have been significant increases in U.S. life expectancy, racial/ethnic disparities persist. Two of the primary goals of our study are to: 1) provide an updated conceptual framework for the study of racial/ethnic differences in U.S. adult mortality, and 2) estimate current racial/ethnic differences in adult mortality and examine the factors that affect the differences. Using the 1997-2004 sample adult respondents of the NHIS linked with mortality follow up through the end of 2006, we find that overall Black-White differences are modestly narrower when compared to a decade or so ago, but remain very wide. We also find that the majority of the Black-White adult mortality gap can be accounted for by crude measures of socioeconomic and social resources that reflect the significance of U.S. racial socioeconomic stratification. Further, when controlling for these socioeconomic and family resources, Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants exhibit significantly lower mortality risk than whites.

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Presented in Session 153: Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differentials in Health and Mortality