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Life Expectancy For Black People

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The life expectancy for Black people in the U.S. always falls below the national average, but that doesn’t quite tell the entire story.

Black Americans are living a lot longer than they did in the past, but racial disparities in life expectancy remain.

Life expectancy is defined as the statistical measure of the average time a person is expected to live. It is based on several factors like genetics, lifestyle choices, access to quality health care, hygiene, obesity, diet and nutrition, exercise, and crime rates. Women also tend to live, on average, five years longer than men. Black Americans face other factors like racial injustices and post-disaster displacement. After Katrina devastated New Orleans, over 175,000 Black residents left the city. More than 75,000 of them never came back.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the average life expectancy in the US was 47 years. By the year 2000, it had risen to over 70 years, with some Americans even exceeding 80 years of age. Black Americans also saw similar growth, but their life expectancy constantly stayed five to seven years lower that of their white counterparts.

With advancements in science and technology, those disparities have begun to diminish.

By 2018 the difference in life expectancy between Black and whites in America had shrunk to 3.6 years and it continues to shirk.

As of 2020, the average life expectancy for white people in the US was 78.83 years of age. For Black people that number slightly dropped to 76.42 years of age.

Even though the difference in life expectancy between Black and white Americans is shrinking, the disparity is still a serious cause of concern in Black communities.

In a recent study, Brookings compared life expectancy across neighborhoods where the population of Black residents ranged from less than 1% to over 50%. They found that neighborhoods with a 10% Black population or higher have an overall life expectancy lower than the national average of 78.7 years. But, neighborhoods with a Black population of less than 1% have a higher life expectancy by around one year compared to the national average.

They also found that Black-majority neighborhoods had relatively lower life expectancy when compared to the metropolitan cities in which those neighborhoods were located.

But how does life expectancy for Black people rank state by state? Below are the top 5 staves that have the lowest life expectancy for Black people.

1. Rhode Island

life expectancy for Black people

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2. Arkansas

life expectancy for Black people

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty

3. Mississippi


Source: John Coletti / Getty

4. Louisiana


Source: Matthew Micah Wright / Getty

4. West Virginia 

west virginia

Source: Maddie McGarvey / Getty


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