Life expectancy is often discussed when discussing the quality of life in a particular country or part of the world. North Americans often claim their relatively high life expectancy as a good example of the way of life we have here. But how good is the male life expectancy in the United States?
The last numbers we have to work with are from 2003, from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). Those numbers show that the estimated life expectancy for people born in the United States is 77.6 years - the highest it’s ever been, among all ethnicities and races. For men, the average life expectancy is 74.8 while for women it is 80.1 years. Although African Americans and Hispanics still have shorter life expectancies, they are still higher than the were the last time these numbers were calculated. Native American men did not gain but they didn’t lose years either. Other interesting facts:
Sudden death and suicide are four times more likely in men than in women, with the youngest men at highest risk. White men were high, but still lower than the other ethnic groups and races. American Indian men, aged 15 to 24 years had the highest rates at 60% than their white peers. Asian men, ages 45 to 54 years were 15% higher than their peers.
More than just numbers
Knowing the numbers doesn’t do anything unless people act on them. While it’s undeniable that some races are at higher risk for some medical problems, such as African Americans and high blood pressure, a big reason for the difference is the access to health care.
The American Journal of Public Health published an article in 2003 that said Latino men and African American men are significantly less likely than White men to see a physician; 55 percent of Latino men and 45 percent of African American men do not have a doctor they see regularly.
Twice as many Mexican American men as Mexican American women report having no routine place to receive healthcare.
Men of color are also more likely to be uninsured — 46 percent of Hispanics and 28 percent of African Americans are uninsured, compared to 17 percent of Whites.
Studies that examine how different groups of men use Medicare show that even when health insurance and income differences are accounted for Black men receive fewer preventive services than white men like flu shots and colonoscopy screening.
The American Journal of Public Health also reported that social and behavioral factors may also explain why American men especially minority men are less healthy than women.