Mortality in the US: Comparing Race/Ethnicity and Nativity

Swallen, Karen
Working paper no. 1999-04


Mortality differentials by nativity have not received as much attention as have mortality differentials by race. We examine the joint effects of race/ethnicity and nativity. Race- and nativity-specific life tables are created using US vital statistics for 1989-1991 for each gender; death rates are compared to the reference category (white US-born person). Both race/ethnicity and nativity modify mortality. Generally, immigrants have increased mortality at young ages and a slight advantage later. Possible explanations for the age variation include differences in country of origin, occupation, and socioeconomic status by age, cohort, or gender. Asians, regardless of nativity, have low mortality. The Hispanic mortality differences vary by gender. US-born blacks have especially high mortality, but foreign-born blacks do well. Among the possible explanations of these results are SES and racism.