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Women's Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Life Expectancy

Narrative

Based on preliminary data, the overall life expectancy of a baby born in 2011 was 78.7 years (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site); this varied, however, by sex and race and ethnicity. A baby girl born in the United States in 2011 could expect to live 81.1 years, 4.8 years longer than a male baby, whose life expectancy would be 76.3 years. Females had longer life expectancies than males within every race and ethnic group, ranging from an advantage of 4.7 years among non-Hispanic Whites to 6.2 years among non-Hispanic Blacks. A variety of social and biological factors may explain the female longevity advantage, including better health and health-care seeking behaviors and cardiovascular benefits of estrogen.1

Non-Hispanic Blacks had the lowest life expectancy for both females and males (77.8 and 71.6 years, respectively), while Hispanics had the longest life expectancy for both females and males (83.7 and 78.9 years, respectively). The lower mortality rates of the Hispanic population, despite greater levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, known as the Hispanic paradox, may be due to more favorable health among those who are able to immigrate from their home countries, as well as the possibility that they may return to those countries to die and are not counted in mortality statistics.2 Life expectancy data are not reported for Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native populations due to known issues of under-reporting on death certificates.

Life expectancy has increased since 1970 for both females and males. Between 1970 and 2011, female life expectancy increased by 6.4 years from 74.7 to 81.1 years (8.6 percent), while male life expectancy increased by 9.2 years from 67.1 to 76.3 years (13.7 percent). Between 1970 and 2011, the greater gains in life expectancy for males than females have led to reduced disparities by sex, shrinking from a differential of 7.6 to 4.8 years. Of concern, however, is that female mortality rates have recently increased in over 40 percent of U.S. counties whereas the same was true for male mortality rates in only 3.4 percent of counties.3

1 Desjardins, B. Why is life expectancy longer for women than it is for men? Scientific American link leaves hrsa.gov site [serial online]. August 30, 2004.

2 Riosmena F, Wong R, Palloni A. Migration selection, protection, and acculturation in health: a binational perspective on older adults. Demography. June 2013;50(3):1039-64.

3 Kindig DA, Cheng ER. Even as mortality fell in most U.S. counties, female mortality nonetheless rose in 42.8 percent of counties from 1992 to 2006. Health Aff (Millwood). March 2013;32(3):451-8.

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Graph

Data

Life Expectancy at Birth, by Race/Ethnicity* and Sex, 2011 (Data are preliminary)
Year Age in Years, Female Age in Years, Male
*Data for American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asians, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders were not available. Source: Hoyert DL, Xu JQ. Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 6. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
Non-Hispanic White 81.1 76.4
Non-Hispanic Black 77.8 71.6
Hispanic 83.7 78.9
Total 81.1 76.3
Life Expectancy at Birth, by Sex, 1970-2011 (Data are preliminary)
Year Age in Years, Female Age in Years, Male
Source: Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD: Final Data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 61 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2013. Hoyert DL, Xu JQ. Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 6. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
1970 75.6 68.0
1975 77.3 69.5
1980 78.1 70.7
1985 78.7 71.8
1990 79.4 72.7
1995 79.6 73.4
2000 79.9 74.7
2005 80.4 75.4
2011 81.1 76.3