Skip to main content

Racial Gap in Life Expectancy Persists in US

Three women stand together, one looks Hispanic, one looks white, and one looks black.
(Image credit: <a href="">Kelly Young</a>, <a href="">Shutterstock</a>)

Life expectancy for African Americans has historically been lower than that of whites in the United States, and while the gap is closing, disparities remain, according to a new report.

In 2010, the average life expectancy for blacks was 3.8 years less than that of whites, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blacks had higher rates of death from heart disease, cancer, homicide, diabetes and conditions in infancy, which contributed to the lower life expectancy.

However, blacks had lower rates than whites of death from suicide, unintentional injuries and chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

Life expectancy for black men was nearly 5 years less than that of white men, while life expectancy for black women was 3.3 years less than that of white women.

In 1970, the gap between the life expectancies of blacks and whites was 7.6 years.

In 2010, white women had the highest life expectancy at birth, 81.3 years, followed by black women (78.0 years), white men (76.5 years) and black men (71.8 years). Life expectancy for the U.S. population as a whole was 78.7 years.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. FollowLiveScience @livescience, Facebook&Google+. Original article on .

Rachael Rettner
Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a masters degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.