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Medicine LibreTexts

1.5: Life Expectancy at Birth

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  • Life expectancy is a measure often used to gauge the overall health of a population. Life expectancy at birth represents the average number of years that a group of infants would live if the group were to experience the age-specific death rates present in the year of birth. Differences in life expectancy among various demographic subpopulations, including racial and ethnic groups, may reflect differences in a range of factors such as socioeconomic status, access to medical care, and the prevalence of specific risk factors in a particular subpopulation.

    During 1975–2015, life expectancy at birth in the United States increased from 68.8 to 76.3 years for males and from 76.6 to 81.2 years for females. During this period, life expectancy at birth for males and females was longer for white persons than for black persons. Racial disparities in life expectancy at birth persisted for both males and females in 2015, but continued to narrow.