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Life Expectancy

Narrative

In 2010, the overall life expectancy of a baby born was 78.7 years (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site); this varied, however, by sex and race. A baby girl born in the United States in 2010 could expect to live 81.0 years, 4.8 years longer than a male baby, whose life expectancy would be 76.2 years (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). The differential between male and female life expectancy was greater among Blacks than Whites. Black males born in 2010 could expect to live 71.8 years, 6.2 years fewer than Black females (78.0 years). The difference between White males and females was 4.8 years, with life expectancies at birth of 76.5 and 81.3 years, respectively. White females could expect to live 3.3 years longer than Black females.

Life expectancy has increased since 1970 for males and females in both racial groups. Between 1970 and 2010, White males' life expectancy increased from 68.0 to 76.5 years (12.5 percent), while White females' life expectancy increased from 75.6 to 81.3 years (7.5 percent). During the same period, the life expectancy for Black males increased from 60.0 to 71.8 years (19.7 percent), while life expectancy increased from 68.3 to 78.0 years (14.2 percent) for Black females. Between 1970 and 2010, the greater gains in life expectancy for males than females and for Blacks than Whites have led to reduced disparities by sex and race.

Life expectancy among the Hispanic population has been reported only recently. In 2010, reported life expectancy by sex and race/ethnicity was highest for Hispanic females (83.8 years), followed by non-Hispanic White females (81.1 years), Hispanic males (78.5 years), non-Hispanic Black females (77.7 years), non-Hispanic White males (76.4 years), and non-Hispanic Black males (71.4 years, data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).1 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.

1 Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. Deaths: Final Data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 61 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

Graph

Data

Life Expectancy at Birth, by Race* and Sex, 1970-2010
Year Age in Years
White Female Black Female White Male Black Male
*Both racial categories include Hispanics. Source: Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. Deaths: Final Data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 61 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
1970 75.6 68.3 68.0 60.0
1975 77.3 71.3 69.5 62.4
1980 78.1 72.5 70.7 63.8
1985 78.7 73.4 71.8 65.0
1990 79.4 73.6 72.7 64.5
1995 79.6 73.9 73.4 65.2
2000 79.9 75.1 74.7 68.2
2005 80.4 76.1 75.4 69.3
2010 81.3 78.0 76.5 71.8