Monday, September 3, 2012
A new study shows that the gap in life expectancy between blacks and white has widened since 1990, especially for those with lower educational levels
Researchers, who crunched mortality numbers in key databases from 1990-2008, found that white men in the United States with 16 years or more of schooling had life expectancy at birth of 14.2 years longer than African American males with fewer than 12 years of education. The gulf between well-educated white women and black women with low educational levels was 10.3 years. The gap between black women of high versus low educational levels was 6.5 years, and for Latinas the difference was 2.9 years. For males the longevity gaps were 12.9 years among whites, 9.7 years among blacks and 5.5 years for Hispanics. What’s more, the picture for those with fewer than 12 years of education has grown notably worse for whites, says the study. In terms of educational status whites at the bottom are losing ground at a faster pace than those at the top. The gulf between white women is especially wide, says the report. Those with 12 years or less of education were living just over a decade (10.4 years) less than white American females with at least 16 years of schooling. While those with higher levels of formal learning are gaining longevity dividends every year, those least educated have had life expectancy linger at mid-20th century levels. Although blacks have added years slightly overall, among those with the lowest education, longevity for African American men is stuck at the average life expectancy the United States reached in 1954. For other groups with the least education, black women linger at the 1962 level, white women hover in 1964, and poorly schooled white men only live as long as Americans did in 1972. And the ethnic disparities in education are sharp. On the one hand, among those age 25 or older in 2008, the researchers found, more than one-third of Latinos had less than a high school education, compared with one in six African Americans and only one in 12 whites. On the other hand, says the study, among those who enjoy the health and longevity benefits of a college or post-graduate degree, about one-third are white, one-sixth are black and one in eight are Hispanic. Latino immigrants tend to be healthier than subsequent U.S.-born generations of Hispanics. Second- or third-generation Hispanics born in the United States experience higher mortality risks and die 10% - 20% earlier than their immigrant parents’ and grandparents’ generations.