Trends in the contribution of major causes of death to the black-white life expectancy gap by US state

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Abstract

Life expectancy has increased in the United States over many decades. The difference in life expectancy between black and white Americans has also decreased, but some states have made much more progress towards racial equality than others. This paper describes the pattern of contributions of six major causes of death to the black-white life expectancy gap within US states and the District of Columbia between 1969 and 2013, and identifies states diverging from the overall pattern. Across multiple causes, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan had the highest contributions to black-white inequality, while New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island had the lowest contributions and have either achieved or are the closest to achieving black-white equality in life expectancy.

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