Latinos living in the U.S. enjoy a longer life expectancy than whites and blacks, according to a study released this week.
Latinos outlive whites by two-and-a-half years and blacks by more than seven years. The life expectancy for a Latino born in 2006 is 80 years and six months, according to the study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A white person born the same year can expect to live 78 years, while the life expectancy for a black person is around 73 years.
The life expectancy for the total population born in 2006 is 77 years and seven months, according to the study, which is based on death certificates.
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The finding of higher life expectancy among Latinos seems paradoxical because on average the Latino population has lower socioeconomic status than the non-Latino white population, according to the study.
Henry Forman, professor in the School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced, said the results of the study are somewhat stunning. He said, as highlighted in the study, the normal prevalence of disease, which has a correlation with lifespan, is associated with people in poverty. He added that there's a high rate of diabetes among Latinos. "If you get identified, what happens under most circumstances is our socioeconomic status correlates with diseases and a decrease of lifespan," he said. "The results are somewhat surprising in that regard."
Still, Forman, who also works as an adjunct professor at the Gerontology Center at USC, said the study doesn't give an explanation as to why Latinos have a longer life expectancy. According to him, the report says a lot in terms of numbers, but it doesn't give much information in the conclusion of what those numbers mean. "This kind of data is basically hypothesis-generated," he said. "Being Latino means that you have a probability of living longer, and that's all you can say."
This is the first time the government calculated the life expectancy for Latinos. Before, they were included among the white and black populations.
There are approximately 45.4 million Latinos in the country, who represent 15.1 percent of the total population, according to the report. Latinos also are the largest ethnic minority living in the U.S.
In Merced County, Latinos account for 53.1 percent of the population, according to the 2009 American Community Survey.
To view a complete copy of the study, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchs
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 388-6507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.