What Disparities Across the Life Span Are Most Responsible for the Decrease in Life Expectancy Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities?
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This “immigrant paradox” appears to diminish with time spent in the United States, however. For other indicators, disparities have shrunk, not because of improvements among minorities but because of declines in the health of majority groups.
Overall, the populations of the United States and other developed nations have enjoyed more than a century of rarely interrupted rising life expectancy and notable improvements in quality of life. Striking among these transitions in health and longevity were the rapid declines in mortality at early ages observed at the beginning of the twentieth century, reductions in mortality from heart disease during the last third of that century, and declining mortality in old age in recent decades. There is reason to be optimistic about the future of health and longevity in the United States and the positive impact that increased longevity could have on national and global economies. Advances in medicine and biomedical technology, including an understanding of the genetics of exceptional longevity, are occurring at an accelerated pace; 6 genetic engineering could cure or control some inherited diseases; the prevalence of smoking has declined; recent efforts to attack childhood and adult obesity are encouraging; new approaches to reducing health disparities have been proposed; and scientists may be on the verge of finding a way to slow biological aging.
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Adult health effects might be more compelling than child health effects to many policy makers, because adults can vote and adult health translates into economic productivity.
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