, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 773–796 | Cite as

Uncrossing the U.S. Black-White Mortality Crossover: The Role of Cohort Forces in Life Course Mortality Risk



In this article, I examine the black-white crossover in U.S. adult all-cause mortality, emphasizing how cohort effects condition age-specific estimates of mortality risk. I employ hierarchical age-period-cohort methods on the National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files between 1986 and 2006 to show that the black-white mortality crossover can be uncrossed by factoring out period and cohort effects of mortality risk. That is, when controlling for variations in cohort and period patterns of U.S. adult mortality, the estimated age effects of non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white U.S. adult mortality risk do not cross at any age. This is the case for both men and women. Further, results show that nearly all the recent temporal change in U.S. adult mortality risk was cohort driven. The findings support the contention that the non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white U.S. adult populations experienced disparate cohort patterns of mortality risk and that these different experiences are driving the convergence and crossover of mortality risk at older ages.


Mortality Race United States Age-period-cohort Crossover 



Dr. Masters is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University. This research was completed when Dr. Masters was supported by a grant (1 R01-HD053696, PI Robert A. Hummer) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health Research and Human Development and by an NICHD infrastructure grant (5 R24 HD042849) awarded to the Population Research Center (PRC) at the University of Texas at Austin. This is a revised article based on a presentation at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 14–17, Atlanta, GA. The author thanks Bob Hummer, Mark Hayward, Dan Powers, and the anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments and advice on this draft.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia University, Institute for Social and Economic Research and PolicyNew YorkUSA

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