, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 109-128

Mortality among elderly hispanics in the United States: Past evidence and new results

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We used vital records and census data and Medicare and NUMIDENT records to estimate age-and sex-specific death rates for elderly non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics, including five Hispanic subgroups: persons born in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, other foreign countries, and the United States. We found that corrections for data errors in vital and census records lead to substantial changes in death rates for Hispanics and that conventionally constructed Hispanic death rates are lower than rates based on Medicare-NUMIDENT records. Both sources revealed a Hispanic mortality advantage relative to non-Hispanic whites that holds for most Hispanic subgroups. We also present a new methodology for inferring Hispanic origin from a combination of surname, given name, and county of residence.

The work of the first two authors was supported by Grant AG10168 from the National Institute on Aging. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and no official endorsement by the Social Security Administration should be inferred. An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Atlanta, GA, May 2002. We thank the staff at the National Center for Health Statistics for assistance in evaluating our new algorithm to assign Hispanic identity and Samuel Preston, Ira Rosenwaike, Greg Drevenstedt, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.