By JohnThomas Didymus
A new study says that in the U.S. white males outlive black males by seven years and white females outlive black females by five years. The researchers concluded from the results that the U.S. still needs to improve on the health of African-Americans.
The study published in February 2012 issue of the journal Health Services Research, collected data from death certificates of 17.8 million people who died from health-related (diseases) and non-health related causes such as accidents, murder and suicide. The data covering 1997 through 2004 from all 50 states of the U.S. and the District of Columbia, noted the race or ethnicity, sex and age at death, and the state of residence of the subjects.
The study, according to Live Science, found that national life expectancy or average life span for white males was about 75, while it was only 67.5 years for black males. The average life expectancy for white females was 80 years and black females 74.5 years.
The study looked at the pattern on a state-by-state basis and found that New Mexico had the smallest disparities between blacks and whites (differences of 3.76 for men and 2.45 years for women). The District of Columbia had the largest disparities, 13.77 years for men and 8.55 years for women.
Science Daily reports that in addition to New Mexico, the states with the smallest gaps between black and white men (less than six years) were Kentucky, West Virginia, Nevada, Oklahoma, Washington, Colorado, New York and Arizona.
The study found that in many of the states where the gaps were smaller it was not because blacks were living longer but because whites were dying earlier.
Medline Plus reports Kentucky, West Virginia, Nevada and Oklahoma, were exceptions because the smaller gaps were due to a combination of African-American men living longer than national average and whites living shorter lives.
In New Mexico, Washington, Colorado, New York and Arizona, both black and white men lived longer than national average, and black men had life spans that were significantly longer than national average.
Medline Plus reports researcher Nazleen Bharmal of the University of California, Los Angeles, said: “There is an assumption that large disparities are bad because vulnerable populations are not doing as well as they should, while areas with small disparities are doing a better job at health equity. We show that the reason there are small disparities in life expectancy is because white populations are doing as poorly as black populations, and the goal in these states should be to raise health equity for all groups.”
The study found that in the states with largest gaps between blacks and whites, the gaps were greater because blacks were having average life spans significantly below national average and whites were having average life spans equal to or greater than national average.
Science Daily reports states with the largest gaps between black and white men were: New Jersey, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
For women, the states with the largest differences in life span were Illinois, Rhode Island, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida and Nebraska. The differences between white and black women in these states were more than six years. White women in these states lived longer than the national average, while black women had average life spans lower than the national average.
The states with the smallest differences for women were New Mexico, New York, West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama. These states had less than four years gap between black and white women. These smaller disparities were the result of black women being longer-lived than average and whites being shorter-lived.
The study found that 58 percent of blacks live in 10 states: New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, Missouri and Louisiana.
The study concluded that eliminating the gaps in life span between blacks and whites in these 10 states alone would bring the national difference down significantly.