Longer Life vs. Better Life: Life Expectancy for US Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics

Chi-Tsun Chiu, University of Texas at Austin
Dustin C. Brown, University of Texas at Austin
Jennifer Karas Montez, University of Texas at Austin

Hispanics in the U.S. have life expectancies comparable to non-Hispanic whites, despite their disadvantaged socioeconomic status - a pattern coined the Hispanic Paradox. This study uses five waves of the Health and Retirement Study (1998-2006) to examine whether the Hispanic paradox in mortality extends to disability for persons aged 50 and older. Life expectancies with and without activities of daily living (ADL) disability are calculated and simulated using the SPACE (Stochastic Population Analysis for Complex Events) program introduced by Cai et al. (2008) for six race-gender groups: non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic men and women. For non-Hispanic blacks and whites only, the result shows a clear association between SES and mortality, and between disability and mortality. Although Hispanics have comparable life expectancy to whites, they live more years with disabilities. Thus, the disability-mortality link is weaker among Hispanics, and the Hispanic mortality paradox does not extend to disability.

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Presented in Session 3: Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Health and Mortality