cially mortality rates, self-rated overall health, the prevalence of major diseases, and measures of physical and cognitive functioning (Hummer et al., 2004; Manly and Mayeux, 2004). There are consistencies across indicators; however, health is multidimensional, and the pattern of racial and ethnic differences is not uniform.


The black disadvantage in mortality is clear. As shown in Figures 1-1 and 1-2, the official death rates for black males and females are 30-50 percent higher than those of whites at ages 65-79. Official statistics have various limitations—underregistration of deaths, disparities in racial and ethnic identification between registered deaths and the base census population, and inaccurate age reporting. However, attempts to correct for such data limitations still leave a significant black-white gap (Hummer et al., 2004). Overall, life expectancy for blacks is nearly 7 years shorter than for whites (Rogers et al., 2000), given that mortality is also higher for blacks at younger ages: more than twice that of whites among infants and still twice that of whites at ages 20-24.

FIGURE 1-1 Death rates per 100,000 by race and ethnicity: Males 65 years and older, 1999.

SOURCE: Derived by Hummer et al. (2004) from Hoyert et al. (2001).

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement