Black-White Mortality Crossover at Old Age: New Evidence from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study
Duygu Basaran Sahin, Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY) and CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
This paper investigates black-white (non-Hispanic) mortality differentials in the U.S. using the National Longitudinal Mortality Study data (version 4). We estimate period life tables at survey baseline (1983) and conditional cohort life tables for selected birth cohorts (e.g 1898-99, 1903-04, 1913-14). Previous literature posits that, while survival rates are lower for blacks than whites up until around age 80, they may be greater at very old ages. We find that black-white mortality crossover persists at very old ages, despite more accurate death information. While the probability of surviving from age 70 to 80 for whites is five percentage points more than blacks, blacks’ probability of surviving from age 85 to 95 is two percentage points more than whites. Furthermore, black males’ probability of surviving from age 85 to 95 is five percentage points more than white males. Our study supports the need to reconsider methods for old age mortality estimates.