Large Differences Among the States in the Racial Gap in Life Expectancy

On average, White men in the United State live seven years longer than Black men. White women, on average, live five years longer than their Black peers. But an analysis, led by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, finds that there are major differences in the racial gap in life expectancy from state to state. The researchers examined death certificates for 17,834,236 individuals during the years 1997 to 2004.

The smallest racial gap in life expectancy occurs in the state of New Mexico. Other states with a small racial gap in life expectancy are Kentucky, West Virginia, Nevada, Oklahoma, Washington, Colorado, New York and Arizona. But the researchers found that in many cases the reason for the lower gap was not because Blacks were living longer, but rather because Whites in these states had lower life expectancies than the national average.

The largest racial gap is in the District of Columbia. There, the life expectancy gap for White and Black men is a whopping 13.77 years. States with large racial gaps in life expectancy include New Jersey, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.


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