Life expectancy: how can we cope with uneven declines? – Harvard Health Blog


Not long ago, during the pre-pandemic of 2019, life expectancy at birth for non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic populations was approximately 75, 79, and 82 years, respectively. The higher life expectancy of Hispanics compared to others in the United States may come as a surprise to some.

This phenomenon, known asHispanic paradox“, Was first noted in the 1980s, and its legitimacy has been debated ever since. A number of explanations have been proposed, including hypotheses about the” healthy immigrant “(people who emigrate to The United States is healthier than those staying in their home countries) and the “salmon bias” (unhealthy immigrants from the U.S. are more likely to return to their home countries). Other experts Keep in mind that Hispanic communities have lower smoking rates and higher levels of social cohesion, which can certainly contribute to their presumed higher life expectancy. In the end, this difference remains little known and is further complicated research keep in mind that Hispanic individuals born in the United States may have a lower life expectancy compared to their foreign-born counterparts.

Ara, recent estimates of life expectancy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show an alarming change that highlights the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color. Between 2019 and 2020, life expectancy fell more sharply among black and Hispanic populations compared to their white counterparts, at three years, two years, and one year, respectively. In fact, the life expectancy gap between black and white populations widened from four to six years, the largest gap since 1998. And the life expectancy advantage previously held by populations Hispanics over whites decreased from three to two years. In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decline in life expectancy among all individuals in the U.S., but this impact has been noticed mostly by communities of color.

Many reasons for increased vulnerability to COVID-19

Many factors contributed to this uneven drop in life expectancy. But these remarkable figures remind us of the vulnerability of blacks, Indians, and people of color (COPD) in the United States, the result of long-standing unequal access to health care and the resources needed to achieve economic mobility. ascending. Many BIPOC populations in the U.S. live on the brink of collapse. With few health or financial reserves, these communities are increasingly vulnerable to sudden events, such as the financial collapse of the early 2000s or a global pandemic.

Racism works largely through structural barriers that favor some groups and disadvantages others. Instead of causing new disparities, the COVID-19 pandemic simply unmasked the chronic failures of our social policies and the provision of health services to our BIPOC communities. Recently, the CDC acknowledged this and stated racism is a threat to public health which harms the health and well-being of BIPOC populations.

Long-standing systemic failures lead to poor overall health

Abnormally high and sustained exposure to stress during pregnancy and early childhood leads to the sustained release of inflammatory and stress-related hormones, such as cortisol, which results in toxic levels of chronic stress. Racism causes chronic stress, which affects it in a harmful way development and well-being of children BIPOC. In addition, many children have BIPOC less general chance of prospering. They live in neighborhoods plagued by widespread poverty caused by long-standing discriminatory policies such as residential realignment and segregation. These factors are compounded, resulting in higher levels of cardiovascular disease, mental illness, and health risk behaviors. Known as weathering, this helps to decrease shelf life and health (the period of a lifetime during which a person is in good health).

In addition, COPD people in the U.S. persistently face barriers to accessing quality health care. Some examples include higher rates of absence of insurance and underinsurance, and lower health literacy. The pervasive bias and discriminatory policies are deeply embedded in our healthcare infrastructure. Therefore, the results of the CDC report should come as no surprise: it is expected that a chronically deprived private population of accessible prevention services will perform poorly during a pandemic.

Moving forward: what changes could help?

We can all raise our voices to persuade and support the efforts of government officials at all levels and health leaders to address the immediate disparities related to the ongoing pandemic and the chronic flaws that leave BIPOC communities increasingly vulnerable. Below are several steps that can get our system moving in the right direction.

Ordinary citizens can

  • Vote in every election, especially in local elections. Local elected officials, such as a city mayor, a city manager, city council members, and the county sheriff, can affect the lives of citizens even more personally than state or federal officials. Local media and websites may have information on policy views and records to help you choose candidates.
  • Be wary of fake news promoted on social media. Social media puts a lot of information at our fingertips, but it also offers ways to spread false information that can greatly affect our decisions. Try to maintain a healthy level of skepticism. Check the information with trusted sources. These common sense tips it can help you avoid falling victim to fake news.
  • Support local organizations. Local non-profit organizations and community organizations play an important role in helping to address COVID-19 disparities that affect COPD communities and strive for vaccine testing and equity. If you have the financial capacity, consider making donations to local nonprofits, food banks, and community organizations so they can continue to help in times of need.

Politicians and government leaders can

  • Fix unemployment insurance. Inject federal funds to rehabilitate worn-out unemployment insurance infrastructure and pass legislation that requires all states to provide standard minimum benefits.
  • Make universal health happen. Make sure you have universal health insurance, whether it’s through a public option, a single payer, or a number of other alternatives. Americans deserve equitable access to quality health care, especially preventive care.
  • Eliminate historically racist and discriminatory policies. Eliminate discriminatory practices such as mismanagement that contribute to continued voter disempowerment, residential segregation, and widespread poverty, leaving color communities voiceless in undue circumstances.

Editor’s note: at the request of Dr. Perez, the terms used to describe all races and / or ethnicities are capitalized in this post, to reflect their view of identity and racial equity.

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