The life-expectancy gap between black and white America has never been smaller

The gap in life expectancies between black and white Americans is at a record low
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The gap between the life expectancies of black and white Americans is about 3.4 years, down from almost 15 years in 1900 and the smallest difference on record, says Sabrina Tavernise at The New York Times, citing federal health data. In 2014, black Americans lived an average of 75.6 years while whites lived 79 years. The shrinking gap is due partly to a leveling off of the life expectancy of white Americans, attributed to the opioid epidemic, but it's mostly due to a host of better health outcomes among African Americans, from lower infant mortality to a drop in smoking and smoking-related deaths, a decline in suicides, and a sharp reduction in homicides and AIDS deaths.

"Blacks are catching up," Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania, tells The Times. "The gap is now the narrowest it has been since the beginning of the 20th century, and that's really good news." The fact that there is still a 3.4-year gap is a problem, but the general trend is upward for all demographics. You can see a chart, and learn more, at The New York Times.

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