Life expectancy rate for African-Americans increases, but they still die from AIDS, heart diseases, cancer and homicides at a higher rate than whites.
Recently released federal data brings some good news of gains in life expectancy for black Americans amid controversies of whether black lives are as valued as their white counterparts.
By 2014, the most recent year on record, Black life expectancy stood at 75.6 years, while the rate for whites was 79 years. This means the gap between the two races was narrowed to the smallest in history, to 3.4 years from 7 years in 1990.
The factors that significantly improved the life expectancy rate of black folks are: a decline in suicide rate for black men between 1999 and 2014, making them the only racial group to experience a drop; a one-fifth reduction in infant mortality among blacks since the late 1990s; a 64 percent decade long drop in births to teenage mothers, which tend to have higher infant mortality rates; 40 percent reduction in black homicides between 1995 and 2013, and a decade long decline in violence.
However this is not all good news as Blacks are still at a major health disadvantage compared to whites. Moreover, better healthcare and living standards were not solely responsible for narrowing the gap between the races because white life expectancy rate was brought down by the opioid crisis, which has unfairly dominated the headlines.
Despite the gaps being the narrowest since the start of the last century, Black Americans are still playing “catch up” with whites due to the massive scale indifference to the unprecedented loss of black lives, deep inequity in access to quality healthcare, and the explosive rise in incarceration rates, which disproportionately affect black families.
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