Disparities in Mortality Rates

Exess Mortality

The difference between the number of deaths actually observed in the minority population and number of deaths that would have occurred in that group if both minority and non-minority populations had the same age- and sex-specific death rates.

African Americans

  • Higher mortality for coronary heart disease and stroke account for 24% of the excess mortality in black males, 41% in black females.
  • Black males have a greater likelihood of dying from cancer than any other population

Hispanic Women

  • Some data indicate 45% higher heart disease mortality among older Puerto Rican women in the U.S. than older Anglo women, but not for Puerto Rican men; Cuban- and Mexican-born elders had lower rates of heart disease mortality than Anglo elders (Villa et al, 1993).
  • Mortality rates for cancer of the cervix among Mexican-born females in the U.S. was found to be twice as high as that of Anglo females; stomach and liver cancer were higher for both Mexican born males and females, but all other cancers showed lower cancer mortality (Villa, et al., 1993.)


  • Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, and Filipino Americans have lower age-adjusted death rates from all causes than Whites, Blacks, or American Indians (McBride, Morioka-Douglas, & Yeo, 1996).

American Indians

  • Excess deaths have been reported among older American Indians for tuberculosis, diabetes, pneumonia, and cirrhosis (John, 1997; MCabe & Cuellar, 1994).


  • Suicide is much more common among older white non-Hispanic males than any minority category, and is higher among men than women in all categories. Among women it is slightly higher among Asian/Pacific Islanders than other population (NCHS, 2007).