Paola Scommegna, Senior Writer, and Mark Mather, Associate Vice President, U.S. Programs of the Population Reference Bureau, discuss findings that COVID-19 and Other Risk Factors Widen the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap.
In 2020, COVID-19 deaths appear to have eliminated many of the gains made since 2006 in closing the Black-white life expectancy gap. Theresa Andrasfay and Noreen Goldman projected the gap in life expectancy at birth between Black and white Americans would widen by nearly 40% in 2020—from 3.6 years to more than 5 years—reflecting how the pandemic has “laid bare the risks associated with social and economic disadvantage.” They estimated COVID-19 deaths would reduce average years remaining at age 65 by 1.7 years for Black people and 0.6 years for white people. As Andrasfay and Goldman point out, Black Americans’ higher rates of chronic conditions and disease such as obesity and diabetes may underlie these life expectancy differences as these factors are linked to fatal COVID-19 infections.
Differences in obesity, smoking, and education levels help explain the Black-white disparity in premature death. Using data on Americans ages 40 to 79 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Irma T. Elo, Neil Mehta, and Samuel Preston explore what would happen to the Black-white mortality gap if Black Americans had the same obesity rate, smoking prevalence, and educational distribution as their white peers.
Read the full article: COVID-19 and Other Risk Factors Widen the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap.