Influence of homicide on racial disparity in life expectancy--United States, 1998

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2001 Sep 14;50(36):780-3.


Life expectancy (LE) is an important indicator of the health of populations. Since the early 1900s, when estimates of LE began to be tabulated in the United States, the LE of blacks has been lower than that of whites (1). Homicide, which disproportionately affects blacks, particularly young males, contributes to this difference in LE. To examine the associations between homicide, LE, and race, CDC analyzed 1998 mortality files from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicate, that in 1998, the LE for blacks was approximately 6 years shorter than for whites and that, after heart disease and cancer, homicide was the next largest contributor to the 6-year discrepancy. Violence prevention strategies (e.g., programs for youth offenders) have been implemented for the general population. More research is needed to determine an approach to target the male black population and to reduce LE disparity.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cause of Death
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Homicide / ethnology
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy* / ethnology
  • Male
  • United States / epidemiology