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April 27, 1994

Mortality Among Hispanics

JAMA. 1994;271(16):1237-1238. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510400023017

To the Editor.  —Hispanic Americans remain an understudied population, an issue that has surfaced in JAMA and other journals. The US Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2000, which declared increasing life expectancy and decreasing inequality among subpopulations as the top health objectives for the nation, reports a higher life expectancy for Hispanics (75 years) than non-Hispanic blacks (68 years) and whites (74.4 years).1 Sorlie et al2 confirmed the lower mortality of Latino adults in the United States. These statistics seem paradoxical, however, given the lower income, education, and health access, and the risk factor profile of Hispanics.3 The possibility of genetic or cultural factors accounting for a survival advantage is exciting, and the policy implications of these estimates are significant, yet readers and decision makers should keep in mind that conceptual and operational problems plague research on race and ethnicity.4Two methodologic issues