US racial-ethnic mortality gap adjusted for population structure
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Background U.S. racial/ethnic mortality disparities are well-documented and central to debates on social inequalities in health. Standard measures, like life expectancy or years of life lost, are based on synthetic populations and do not account for the real underlying populations experiencing the inequalities. Methods We analyze U.S. mortality disparities comparing Asian Americans, Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans/Alaska Natives to Whites using 2019 CDC and NCHS data. We develop a novel approach that estimates the mortality Gap, Adjusted for Population structure (GAP) by accounting for real-population exposures. GAP is tailored for analyses where age structures are a fundamental component, not merely a confounder. We highlight the magnitude of inequalities by comparing GAP against standard metrics’ estimates of loss of life due to leading causes of death. Results Based on GAP, Black and Native American mortality disadvantage is as deadly or deadlier than circulatory diseases (U.S. top cause of death); and is overall 72% (Men: 47%, Women: 98% women) and 65% (Men: 45%, Women: 92%) larger than life-expectancy measured disadvantage. Asian Americans and Hispanics have, according to GAP, a mortality advantage over Whites that is over three (Men: 176% , Women: 283%) and two times (Men: 123%, Women: 190%) larger than that based on life expectancy, respectively. Conclusions Mortality inequalities based on standard metrics’ synthetic populations can differ markedly from GAP estimates. We demonstrate that standard metrics underestimate racial/ethnic disparities through disregarding actual population age structures. For health policy, exposure-corrected inequalities such as GAP may provide a more reasonable signal on where to allocate scarce resources.
Pifarré i Arolas , H , Acosta , E , Dudel , C , Hale , J M & Myrskylä , M 2023 , ' US racial-ethnic mortality gap adjusted for population structure ' , Epidemiology , vol. 34 , no. 3 . https://doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0000000000001595
Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.
DescriptionFunding: E.A. received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada) - Postdoctoral grant No. 756-2019-0768, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture - Postdoctoral grant No. 274299. Support for this research was provided to HPA by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
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