Abstract

New life tables for African Americans are presented from 1935 through 1990. They are based on a historical series of vital statistics data on deaths that have been corrected for age misreporting, on reconstructed population counts that have been adjusted for census underenumeration, and on births that have been corrected for underregistration. The new life tables show rapid mortality declines for both African American males and females from 1935 to 1950, and relatively steady reductions thereafter for females. The smaller declines in male mortality in young adulthood and middle age since the 1950s have led to exceptionally high ratios of male to female mortality at these ages. Corrections for census undercounts lead to higher values of life expectancy than in official life tables, but to less improvement over time. Official estimates of life expectancy at age 65 appear to be about 10% too high around 1940 but only about 1.5% too high in the late 1980s.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.

References

Anderson, R.N. (
1999
).
United States Abridged Life Tables, 1997
.
Hyattsville, MD
:
National Center for Health Statistics
.
Arriaga, E.E. (
1984
).
Measuring and Explaining the Change in Life Expectancies
.
Demography
,
21
,
83
96
. 10.2307/2061029
Barringer, H.R., Gardner, R.W., & Levin, M.J. (
1993
).
Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States: The Population of the United States in the 1980s
.
New York
:
Russell Sage Foundation
.
Bayo, F. (
1972
).
Mortality of the Aged
.
Transactions of the Society of Actuaries
,
24
,
1
24
.
Bell, F.C., Wade, A.H., & Goss, S.C. (
1992
).
Life Tables for the United States Social Security Area 1900–2080
.
Baltimore
:
Social Security Administration
.
Blau, F.D., & Beller, A.H. (
1992
).
Black-White Earnings Over the 1970s and 1980s: Gender Differences in Trends
.
Review of Economics and Statistics
,
74
(
2
),
276
86
. 10.2307/2109659
Bound, J., & Freeman, R.B. (
1992
).
What Went Wrong? The Erosion of Relative Earnings and Employment Among Young Black Men in the 1980s
.
Quarterly Journal of Economics
,
107
(
1
),
201
32
. 10.2307/2118327
Coale, A.J., & Demeny, P. (
1983
).
Regional Model Life Tables and Stable Populations
. 2nd ed.
New York
:
Academic Press
.
Coale, A.J., & Kisker, E.E. (
1990
).
Defects in Data on Old-Age Mortality in the United States: New Procedures for Calculating Mortality Schedules and Life Tables at the Highest Ages
.
Asian and Pacific Population Forum
,
4
(
1
),
1
31
.
Condran, G.A., & Preston, S.H. (
1994
).
Child Mortality Differences, Personal Health Care Practices, and Medical Technology: The United States 1900–1930
. In L.C. Chen, A. Kleinman, & N.C. Ware (Eds.),
Health and Social Change in International Perspective
(pp.
171
225
).
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Crimmins, E. (
1981
).
The Changing Pattern of American Mortality Decline, 1940–77, and Its Implications for the Future
.
Population and Development Review
,
7
,
229
54
. 10.2307/1972622
Deutch, J. (
1973
).
Proof of Age Policies—Past, Present, and Future
.
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
.
Dublin, L.I. (
1948
).
Health Progress 1936 to 1945: A Supplement to Twenty-Five Years of Health Progress
.
New York
:
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
.
Dublin, L.I., & Lotka, A.J. (
1937
).
Twenty-Five Years of Health Progress: A Study of the Mortality Experience Among the Industrial Policyholders of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1911 to 1935
.
New York
:
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
.
Edmonston, B., & Schultze, C. (
1995
).
Modernizing the U.S. Census
.
Washington, DC
:
National Academy Press
.
Elo, I.T., & Preston, S.H. (
1994
).
Estimating African-American Mortality From Inaccurate Data
.
Demography
,
31
,
427
58
. 10.2307/2061751
Elo, I.T. (
1996
).
Educational Differentials in Mortality: United States 1979–1985
.
Social Science and Medicine
,
42
(
1
),
47
57
. 10.1016/0277-9536(95)00062-3
Elo, I.T. (
1997
).
Racial and Ethnic Differences in Mortality at Older Ages
. In L.G. Martin, & B.J. Soldo (Eds.),
Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Health of Older Americans
(pp.
10
42
).
Washington, DC
:
National Academy Press
.
Elo, I.T., Preston, S.H., Rosenwaike, I., Hill, M., & Cheney, T. (
1996
).
Consistency of Age Reporting on Death Certificates and Social Security Records Among Elderly African Americans
.
Social Science Research
,
25
,
292
307
. 10.1006/ssre.1996.0014
Enterline, P.E. (
1960
).
Causes of Death Responsible for Recent Increases in Sex Mortality Differentials in the United States
.
Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly
,
39
,
312
28
. 10.2307/3348603
Ewbank, D. (
1987
).
History of Black Mortality and Health Before 1940
.
Milbank Quarterly
,
65
(
Suppl. 1
),
100
28
. 10.2307/3349953
Feldman, J.J., Makuc, D.M., Kleinman, J.C., & Cornoni-Huntley, J. (
1989
).
National Trends in Educational Differentials in Mortality
.
American Journal of Epidemiology
,
129
,
919
33
.
Geronimus, A.T., Bound, J., Waidmann, T.A., Hillemeier, M.M., & Burns, P.B. (
1996
).
Excess Mortality Among Blacks and Whites in the United States
.
New England Journal of Medicine
,
335
,
1552
58
. 10.1056/NEJM199611213352102
Gortmaker, S.L., & Wise, P.H. (
1997
).
The First Injustice: Socioeconomic Disparities, Health Services Technology, and Infant Mortality
.
Annual Review of Sociology
,
23
,
147
70
. 10.1146/annurev.soc.23.1.147
Hahn, R.A., Mulinare, J., & Teutsch, S.M. (
1992
).
Inconsistencies in Coding of Race and Ethnicity Between Birth and Death in U.S. Infants
.
Journal of the American Medical Association
,
267
,
259
63
. 10.1001/jama.267.2.259
Hahn, R.A., & Stroup, D.F. (
1994
).
Race and Ethnicity in Public Health Surveillance: Criteria for Scientific Use of Social Categories
.
Public Health Reports
,
109
(
1
),
7
15
.
Hill, M.E., Preston, S.H., Elo, I.T., & Rosenwaike, I. (
1997
).
Age-Linked Institutions and Age Reporting Among Older African Americans
.
Social Forces
,
75
,
1007
30
. 10.2307/2580528
Himes, C.L., & Clogg, C.C. (
1992
).
An Overview of Demographic Analysis as a Method for Evaluating Census Coverage in the United States
.
Population Index
,
58
,
587
607
. 10.2307/3644491
Himes, C.L., Preston, S.H., & Condran, G.A. (
1994
).
A Relational Model of Mortality at Older Ages in Low Mortality Countries
.
Population Studies
,
48
,
269
91
. 10.1080/0032472031000147796
Horiuchi, S. (
1999
).
Epidemiological Transitions in Developed Countries: Past, Present and Future
Health and Mortality Issues of Global Concern
(pp.
54
71
).
New York
:
United Nations
.
Johansson, S.R. (
1991
).
Welfare, Mortality, and Gender: Continuity and Change in Explanations for Male/Female Mortality Differences Over Three Centuries
.
Continuity and Change
,
6
(
2
),
135
77
. 10.1017/S0268416000001314
Kestenbaum, B. (
1992
).
A Description of the Extreme Aged Population Based on Improved Medicare Enrollment Data
.
Demography
,
29
,
565
80
. 10.2307/2061852
Kitagawa, E.M., & Hauser, P. M. (
1973
).
Differential Mortality in the United States: A Study in Socioeconomic Epidemiology
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Kliegman, R.M. (
1995
).
Neonatal Technology, Perinatal Survival, Social Consequences, and the Perinatal Paradox
.
American Journal of Public Health
,
85
,
909
13
. 10.2105/AJPH.85.7.909
Knudsen, C., & McNown, R. (
1993
).
Changing Causes of Death and Sex Differentials in the USA.
.
Population Research and Policy Review
,
12
,
27
41
. 10.1007/BF01074507
Kochanek, K.D., Maurer, J.D., & Rosenberg, H.M. (
1994
).
Why Did Black Life Expectancy Decline From 1984 Through 1989 in the United States?
.
American Journal of Public Health
,
84
,
938
44
. 10.2105/AJPH.84.6.938
Luke, B., Williams, C., Minogue, J., & Keith, L. (
1993
).
The Changing Pattern of Infant Mortality in the U.S.: The Role of Perinatal Factors and Their Obstetrical Implications
.
International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
,
40
,
199
212
. 10.1016/0020-7292(93)90832-H
McBride, D. (
1991
).
From TB to AIDS: Epidemics Among Urban Blacks Since 1900
.
Albany
:
SUNY Press
.
Vital Statistics of the United States 1945–1967
. (
1947
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
United States Life Tables 1949–51
. (
1954
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Vital Statistics of the United States 1950
. (
1954
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Vital Statistics of the United States 1960
. (
1962
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
The Change in Mortality Trends in the United States
. (
1964
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Comparability of Marital Status, Race, Nativity, and Country of Origin on the Death Certificate and Matching Census Record, United States: May—August 1960
. (
1969
).
Washington, DC
:
Public Health Service
.
Leading Components of Upturn in Mortality for Men, United States: 1952–67
. (
1971
).
Washington, DC
:
Public Health Service
.
Mortality Trends for Leading Causes of Death, United States: 1950–69
. (
1974
).
Washington, DC
:
Public Health Service
.
U.S. Decennial Life Tables for 1969–71
. (
1975
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
U.S. Decennial Life Tables for 1979–81. Methodology of the National and State Life Tables for the United States: 1969–71
. (
1975
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
U.S. Decennial Life Tables for 1979–81
. (
1985
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Vital Statistics of the United States, 1984: Life Tables
. (
1987
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
U.S. Decennial Life Tables for 1979–81: Methodology of the National and State Life Tables
. (
1988
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Vital Statistics of the United States, 1985
. (
1988
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
National Center for Health Statistics
(
1990
).
Births, Marriages, Divorces and Deaths for January— March 1990
.
Monthly Vital Statistics Report
,
39
,
1
3
.
U.S. Decennial Life Tables for 1989–91
. (
1997
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Health, United States, 1996–97 and Injury Chartbook
. (
1997
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Health United States, 1998, With Socioeconomic Status and Health Chartbook
. (
1998
).
Hyattsville, MD
:
National Center for Health Statistics
.
Pappas, G., Queen, S., Hadden, W., & Fisher, G. (
1993
).
The Increasing Disparity in Mortality Between Socioeconomic Groups in the United States, 1960 and 1986
.
New England Journal of Medicine
,
329
,
103
109
. 10.1056/NEJM199307083290207
Preston, S.H. (
1970
).
An International Comparison of Excesses in the Death Rates of Older Males
.
Population Studies
,
24
,
5
20
. 10.2307/2173259
Preston, S.H., & Elo, I.T. (
1995
).
Are Educational Differentials in Adult Mortality Increasing in the United States?
.
Journal of Aging and Health
,
7
,
476
96
. 10.1177/089826439500700402
Preston, S.H., Elo, I.T., Foster, A., & Fu, H. (
1998
).
Reconstructing the Size of the African American Population by Age and Sex, 1930–1990
.
Demography
,
35
,
1
21
. 10.2307/3004023
Preston, S.H., Elo, I.T., Rosenwaike, I., & Hill, M. (
1996
).
African American Mortality at Older Ages: Results of a Matching Study
.
Demography
,
33
,
193
209
. 10.2307/2061872
Preston, S.H., Keyfitz, N., & Schoen, R. (
1972
).
Causes of Death: Life Tables for National Populations
.
New York
:
Seminar Press
.
Retherford, R.D. (
1972
).
Tobacco Smoking and the Sex Mortality Differential
.
Demography
,
9
,
203
16
. 10.2307/2060633
Robinson, J.G., Ahmed, B., Gupta, P. Das, & Woodrow, K.A. (
1993
).
Estimation of Population Coverage in the 1990 United States Census Based on Demographic Analysis
.
Journal of the American Statistical Association
,
88
,
1061
79
. 10.2307/2290799
Rogers, R.G. (
1991
).
Demographic Characteristics of Cigarette Smokers in the United States
.
Social Biology
,
38
(
1–2
),
1
12
.
Rosenberg, H.M., Maurer, J.D., Sorlie, P.D., Johnson, N.J., MacDorman, M.F., Hoyert, D.L., Spitler, J.F., & Scott, C. (
1999
).
Quality of Death Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin: A Summary of Current Research, 1999
.
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Shryock, H.S., & Siegel, J.S. (
1973
).
The Methods and Materials of Demography
.
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Bureau of the Census
.
Singh, G.K., & Yu., S.M. (
1995
).
Infant Mortality in the United States: Trends, Differentials, and Projections 1950 Through 2010
.
American Journal of Public Health
,
85
,
957
64
. 10.2105/AJPH.85.7.957
Sorlie, P.D., Rogot, E., & Johnson, N.J. (
1992
).
Validity of Demographic Characteristics on the Death Certificate
.
Epidemiology
,
3
,
181
84
. 10.1097/00001648-199203000-00018
Trovato, F., & Lalu, N.M. (
1996
).
Narrowing Sex Differentials in Life Expectancy in the Industrialized World: Early 1970s to Early 1990s
.
Social Biology
,
43
(
1–2
),
20
37
.
Levels and Trends of Mortality Since 1950
. (
1982
).
New York
:
United Nations
.
MortPak and MortPak-Lite Upgrades: Version 3.0 of the United Nations Software Packages for Mortality Measurement
. (
1990
).
New York
:
United Nations
.
Mortality Statistics 1930–1944
. (
1934
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
United States Abridged Life Tables, 1939: Urban and Rural by Regions, Color and Sex
. (
1943
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
United States Life Tables and Actuarial Tables 1939–1941
. (
1946
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Census of Population: 1960
. (
1961
).
ashington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Procedural Report on the 1960 Censuses of Population and Housing
. (
1963
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
U.S. Census of Population and Housing: 1970
. (
1971
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Verbrugge, L.M. (
1976
).
Sex Differentials in Morbidity and Mortality in the United States
.
Social Biology
,
23
,
275
96
.
Vincent, P. (
1951
).
La Mortalité des Vieillards
.
Population
,
6
,
181
204
. 10.2307/1524149
Waldron, I. (
1993
).
Recent Trends in Sex Mortality Ratios for Adults in Developed Countries
.
Social Science and Medicine
,
36
,
451
62
. 10.1016/0277-9536(93)90407-U
Waldron, I. (
1995
).
Contributions of Changing Gender Differences in Behavior and Social Roles to Changing Gender Differences in Mortality
. In D. Sabo, & D.F. Gordon (Eds.),
Men’s Health and Illness
(pp.
22
45
).
Thousand Oaks, CA
:
Sage
.
Waldron, I. (
1995
).
Contributions of Biological and Behavioral Factors to Changing Sex Differences in Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality
. In A.D. Lopez, G. Caselli, & T. Valkonen (Eds.),
Adult Mortality in Developed Countries: From Description to Explanation
(pp.
161
78
).
Oxford
:
Clarendon
.
White, K.M., & Preston, S.H. (
1996
).
How Many Americans Are Alive Because of Twentieth Century Improvements in Mortality?
.
Population and Development Review
,
22
,
415
29
. 10.2307/2137714
Zelnik, M. (
1969
).
Age Patterns of Mortality of American Negroes 1900–02 to 1959–61
.
Journal of the American Statistical Association
,
64
,
433
51
. 10.2307/2283631
Zhang, X.H., Sasaki, S., & Kesteloot, H. (
1995
).
The Sex Ratio of Mortality and Its Secular Trends
.
International Journal of Epidemiology
,
24
,
720
29
. 10.1093/ije/24.4.720