Widening Disparities In Infant Mortality And Life Expectancy Between Appalachia And The Rest Of The United States 19902013
Author: Gopal K. Singh, Michael D. Kogan, Rebecca T. Slifkin
Appalachia—a region that stretches from Mississippi to New York—has historically been recognized as a socially and economically disadvantaged part of the United States, and growing evidence suggests that health disparities between it and the rest of the country are widening. We compared infant mortality and life expectancy disparities in Appalachia to those outside the region during the period 1990–2013. We found that infant mortality disparities widened for both whites and blacks, with infant mortality 16 percent higher in Appalachia in 2009–13, and the region’s deficit in life expectancy increased from 0.6 years in 1990–92 to 2.4 years in 2009–13. The association between area poverty and life expectancy was stronger in Appalachia than in the rest of the United States. We found wide health disparities, including a thirteen-year gap in life expectancy among black men in high-poverty areas of Appalachia, compared to white women in low-poverty areas elsewhere. Higher mortality in Appalachia from cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, nephritis or kidney diseases, suicide, unintentional injuries, and drug overdose contributed to lower life expectancy in the region, compared to the rest of the country. Widening health disparities were also due to slower mortality improvements in Appalachia.