News in brief

Health disparities in US narrow slightly, according to new federal data

The 3.4-year gap between blacks’ and whites’ average life expectancy recorded in 2014 is the smallest in history.

As of 2014, the difference in life expectancy between black and white Americans was 3.4 years, the smallest gap that’s ever been recorded. Among African-Americans, infant mortality is down more than 20% since the late ’90s and men’s suicide rates have dropped. Homicide death rates fell 40% between 1995 and 2013, while deaths from cancer dropped by nearly a third.

The New York Times reports that recently released federal data offers hope that health disparities between African-Americans and whites are narrowing, though David R. Williams, a professor of African-American studies and public health at Harvard University who was interviewed for the story, “cautioned that the country still has a long way to go to address the health disadvantages of blacks.”

For more data and analysis of the factors that have shaped U.S. health disparities over history, read the New York Times’ coverage of the health research data.

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy