Why do white Americans tend to live longer than black Americans?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three main factors that help to account for this difference in life expectancy.

The first of these is cultural.  Traditional African American foods are often not very healthy.  These foods include many foods fried in oil and many foods heavy in fat.  This cultural inclination towards unhealthy food can be detrimental to the health of many African Americans.

The second has to do with crime.  African Americans are more likely than white Americans to live in high crime areas.  Therefore, they are much more likely to become victims of violent crimes.  This helps to reduce their life expectancy as well.

The last factor has to do with poverty.  African Americans are also more likely to live in poverty than white Americans are.  Poverty has many deleterious effects on health.  People living in poverty have a harder time affording healthy foods.  They have a harder time getting good medical care.  They also tend to have more stress in their lives.  All of these things are bad for a person’s overall health.

These are the main reasons why African American life expectancy tends to be shorter than that of white Americans.