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  • Ryan Wittler

U.S. Life Expectancy Is Up, but Disparities Persist Across Racial and Ethnic Groups


A new study published in The Lancet from researchers in the Global Burden of Disease Collaborator Network shows that despite overall gains in national life expectancy over the past two decades, disparities persist across racial and ethnic groups.

Study highlights:

The study found overall life expectancy in the U.S. increased by 2.3 years from 2000 to 2019, jumping from 76.8 years to 79.1 years.

  • Life expectancy increased more for Black Americans (+3.9 years) than any other racial or ethnic group, outpacing the gains made by Asian/Pacific Islanders (API) (+2.9 years), Latinos (+2.7 years), and white Americans (+1.7 years).

The findings also suggest that although national life expectancy increased in 97% of counties in the first 10 years of the study period, it declined in 60% of counties in the last 10 years.

  • From 2010 to 2019, API (+0.8 years), Latinos (+0.3 years), Black (+0.5 years), and white Americans (+0.1 years) only experienced modest gains in life expectancy, while it remained the same for American Indian/Alaskan Natives (AIAN).

The team used de-identified death records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and population estimates for 3,110 counties from the National Center for Health Statistics.

  • The researchers say the study offers the first comprehensive, county-level life expectancy estimates in the U.S.

Living longest:

API populations (85.7 years) and Latinos (82.2 years) had higher overall life expectancies than white (78.9 years) and Black Americans (75.3 years).

  • AIAN people had the lowest life expectancy (73.1 years).

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