Hispanic older adult mortality in the United States: new estimates and an assessment of factors shaping the Hispanic paradox

Demography. 2015 Feb;52(1):1-14. doi: 10.1007/s13524-014-0357-y.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology