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Stanford University School of Medicine

Life expectancies for blacks in the U.S. rising rapidly, but racial gap persists

children-486980_1920Uplifting news from the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association: In the United States, black life expectancies are approaching those of whites.

Between 1995 and 2014, life expectancy at birth for black males jumped from nearly 66 years to more than 72 years and for black females it climbed from 74 to 78 years.

For whites, life expectancy at birth creeped (by comparison) from 73 to nearly 77 years for white men and from 80 to 81 years for white women, Stanford's Victor Fuchs, PhD, a professor of health research and policy and of economics, emeritus, writes in a commentary.

Yet rather than stopping to celebrate, Fuchs asks readers to consider what more can be done. He recommends focusing on causes that lead to a large number of deaths and those that disproportionately affect blacks — identifying 11 causes that meet those criteria, including diabetes, homicide and heart disease.

He concludes:

In 1944 Gunner Myrdahl, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, wrote that black-white differences were arguably the United States's biggest problem. Major advances in life expectancy that bring blacks closer to whites is a significant contribution to its solution.

Previously: As life expectancy rises worldwide, many are living longer with illness and disability, Stanford study sheds light on wealth, zip code and lifespan and Report shows continuing health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities
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