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Hispanic Older Adult Mortality in the United States: New Estimates and an Assessment of Factors Shaping the Hispanic Paradox

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Demography

Abstract

Hispanics make up a rapidly growing proportion of the U.S. older adult population, so a firm grasp of their mortality patterns is paramount for identifying racial/ethnic differences in life chances in the population as a whole. Documentation of Hispanic mortality is also essential for assessing whether the Hispanic paradox—the similarity in death rates between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites despite Hispanics’ socioeconomic disadvantage—characterizes all adult Hispanics or just some age, gender, nativity, or national-origin subgroups. We estimate age-/sex- and cause-specific mortality rate ratios and life expectancy for foreign-born and U.S.-born Hispanics, foreign-born and U.S.-born Mexican Americans, non-Hispanic blacks, and non-Hispanic whites ages 65 and older using the 1989–2006 National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality Files. Results affirm that Hispanic mortality estimates are favorable relative to those of blacks and whites, but particularly so for foreign-born Hispanics and smoking-related causes. However, if not for Hispanics’ socioeconomic disadvantage, their mortality levels would be even more favorable.

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Notes

  1. Because about 20 % of NHIS respondents did not report annual household income, we include them as “missing” rather than exclude them or impute income.

  2. Table S4 in Online Resource 1 includes descriptive statistics for never smokers to address potential selectivity.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was provided by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society (John W. Rowe, Columbia University (Chair)), and by infrastructural research support (5 R24 HD042849) and training support (5 T32 HD007081) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and training support (5 T32 AG000139) from the National Institute on Aging. We also thank the National Center for Health Statistics and the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota for making the data available for this article.

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Correspondence to Joseph T. Lariscy.

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Lariscy, J.T., Hummer, R.A. & Hayward, M.D. Hispanic Older Adult Mortality in the United States: New Estimates and an Assessment of Factors Shaping the Hispanic Paradox. Demography 52, 1–14 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-014-0357-y

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