People in D.C. are expected to live longer these days than a decade ago, and the gap between whites and blacks is shrinking.
|Men, 1997||Men, 2007||Women, 1997||Women, 2007|
|White||70.3 years||75.1 years||79.3 years||81.3 years|
|Black||61.7 years||68.9 years||73.6 years||76.8 years|
In 1997, the averages for both whites and blacks were shorter, and the disparity between the races was larger. The gap between black and white men has decreased by 2.4 years; between black and white women, it’s decreased by 1.2 years.
The study didn’t look into the causes for the changes in life expectancy, but a few things stand out to us:
- The life expectancy for D.C.’s black men jumped from 61.7 years in 1997 to 68.9 in 2007. But there still remains a gap despite such a dramatic gain.
- Nationally, the gap between whites and blacks is expanding. But the demographics of D.C. are changing, with more white residents moving in and more black residents leaving. The life expectancy for blacks in Prince George’s County, Md., one of the suburbs to where many black D.C. residents have relocated, saw only slim increases in life expectancies for black men and women.
- As the Washington Post points out, “Life expectancy is an abstract concept that summarizes the health and threats to longevity that exist at a particular moment in history. It is not an actual measure of how long people are living.” So D.C.’s black residents may be expected to live longer now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their lives are better.
- People are expected to live longer in some area suburbs than in the District itself. Fairfax County, Va. has the highest life expectancy for men in the country, and Montgomery County, Md. has the third highest nationally. Those rankings stand in stark contrast to the District’s 1,984th ranking for men and 1,806th ranking for women.