PSC Working Paper Series

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Elo, Irma T. and Greg L. Drevenstedt. 2006. "Black-White Differentials in Cause-Specific Mortality in the United States during the 1980s: The Role of Medical Care and Health Behaviors." PSC Working Paper Series PSC 06-02.


In this paper, we examine black-white differences in cause-specific mortality during the 1980s when black-white disparities in mortality widened in the United States. We group causes of death to those amenable to medical intervention, those closely linked to health behaviors or residential location, and all other causes combined. At older ages, we treat cardiovascular disease, stroke, and forms of cancer not amenable to medical or behavioral intervention as distinct causes. We conduct separate analyses by gender and age group. Causes of death amenable to medical intervention and those linked to health behaviors and residential location accounted for over 60% of the absolute black-white difference in male and female mortality at ages 25-44, male mortality at ages 45-74, but somewhat less than 50% of the black-white difference in female mortality at these older ages. The relative black excess risk was most pronounced for causes amenable to medical intervention with and without adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics.


Mortality, Death, Causes of death, Blacks, Whites, African Americans, Medical care, Health behavior, Disparities, Whites, Residential location, Disease, Health disparities, Health, Socio-demographic characteristics, Socioeconomic differences, Race, Gender, Age, Ethnicity, Health outcomes, Health surveys, Public health, National Longitudinal Mortality Study, Current Population Surveys, National Death Index, International Classification of Disease



Date Posted: 13 November 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.