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Hispanics live longest in U.S.

Friday, October 15th, 2010



Health researchers now have hard numbers to back up a trend they’ve suspected for some time. WHYY reports on the government’s first tally of Hispanic life expectancy:

In the United States, lower income and education levels are usually linked to poorer health and a shorter life, but despite some of those socioeconomic disadvantages Hispanics live longer than whites and blacks in the U.S.

The finding is from a new Centers for Disease Control study and is often called the “Hispanic Paradox.”

Health researchers can’t explain the differences but have begun to study the idea that healthier people are more likely to immigrate to a new country. They’re also exploring the influences of culture.

Dr. Matthew O’Brien works at the Puentes de Salud health clinic in Philadelphia. He says a close family can be good for your health.

O’Brien: In tight-knit communities with very close families, those people will have more resources to protect them, they’ll have more resilience against a disease than those without that level of support.

An Hispanic person born in 2006 may expect to live until nearly age 81, according to the study. That’s about 8 years longer than blacks, more than two years longer than whites.

Rosa Rivera is CEO of the Henrietta Johnson Medical Center in Delaware, where about 12 percent of patients are Hispanic.

She worries that immigrant health advantages — and healthy habits — will erode as Hispanics assimilate.

Rivera: You have the stress of the language, getting around and communication is a problem. Learning the criminal justice system is a problem, the school system is very different than the school systems in our countries. So all of that, the fact that you may not feel like you are being treated the same.


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