“Between 1990 and 2018,” the paper reports, “the U.S. White-Black life expectancy gap decreased from 7.0 to 3.6 years.” A black person born in the U.S. in 1990 could be expected to live to about age 69, compared to 76 for a white person. In the intervening generation, black life expectancy rose about twice as fast as white life expectancy. A black person born in 2018 could be expected to live just over age 75, compared to just under 79 for a white person.
The drivers, the authors say, are primarily “greater reductions in Black relative to White death rates due to cancer, homicide, HIV, and causes originating in the fetal or infant period.” The most pronounced reductions in black mortality are among children and adults under age 65, rather than the elderly.
“Deaths of despair” (deaths from suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related disease) increased among black and white Americans, especially in the last decade, but took a larger toll on white life expectancy. That accounted for 16.2% of the narrowing of the racial gap. The linear extension of life expectancies for both races stopped after 2012, meaning that it’s hard to see much effect from ObamaCare’s health insurance expansion in the data.
Author(s): The Editorial Board
Publication Date: WSJ
Publication Site: 11 Oct 2021