Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging

Living Edition
| Editors: Danan Gu, Matthew E. Dupre

Race Crossover in Longevity

  • Elizabeth AriasEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_795-1


The race crossover in longevity (mortality) is defined as the convergence, intersection, and inversion of the age-specific mortality curves of two distinct race groups in a population, where one group experiences higher mortality throughout most of the life span up until a given advanced age and then experiences lower mortality throughout the remaining life span.


The race crossover in longevity (mortality) is defined as the convergence, intersection, and inversion of the age-specific mortality curves of two distinct race groups in a population, where one group experiences higher mortality throughout most of the life span up until a given advanced age and then experiences lower mortality throughout the remaining life span. The most important characteristic that distinguishes the two race groups is their disparate social and economic standing in society (Hummer 1996). The population with the higher mortality in the younger ages is usually socially and economically...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Arias E, Xu J (2018) United States life tables, 2015. National Center for Health Statistics. Natl Vital Stat Rep 67(7):1–63Google Scholar
  2. Barbi E, Marsili M, Logona F, Vaupel JW, Wachter KW (2018) The plateau of human mortality: demography of longevity pioneers. Science 360:1459–1461.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aat3119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beard RE (1959) Note on some mathematical mortality models. In: Wolstenholme GEW, O’Connor M (eds) The lifespan of animals. Ciba Foundation colloquium on ageing. Little, Brown, BostonGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkman L, Singer B, Manton K (1989) Black/white differences in health status and mortality among the elderly. Demography 26(4):661–678.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Black DA, Hsu YC, Sanders SG, Schofield LS, Taylor LJ (2017) The Methuselah effect: the pernicious impact of unreported deaths on old-age mortality estimates. Demography 54:2001–2024.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-017-0623-xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coale AJ, Kisker EE (1986) Mortality crossovers: reality or bad data. Popul Stud 40:389–401.  https://doi.org/10.1080/0032472031000142316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Corti MC, Guralnik JM, Ferrucci L, Izmirlian G, Leveille SG, Pahor M, Cohen HJ, Pieper C, Havlik RJ (1999) Evidence for a black-white crossover in all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality in an older population: the North Carolina EPESE. Am J Public Health 89(3):308–314.  https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.89.3.308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dahlhamer JM, Cox CS (2007) Respondent consent to link survey data with administrative records: results from a split-ballot field test with the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. In: Proceedings of the federal committee on statistical methodology research conference. Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, VirginiaGoogle Scholar
  9. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (1921) United States life tables: 1890, 1901, 1910, 1901–1910. United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  10. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (1936) United States life tables: 1929 to 1931, 1920 to 1929, 1919 to 1921, 1909 to 1911, 1901 to 1910, 1900 to 1902. United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. Dupre ME, Franzese AT, Parrodo EA (2006) Religious attendance and mortality: implications for the black-white mortality crossover. Demography 43(1):141–164.  https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2006.0004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eberstein IW, Nam CB, Heyman KM (2008) Causes of death and mortality crossovers by race. Biodemography Soc Biol 54(2):214–228.  https://doi.org/10.1080/19485565.2008.9989143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elo IT, Preston SH (1994) Estimating African-American mortality from inaccurate data. Demography 31(3):427–458.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elo IT, Preston SH (1997) Racial and ethnic differences in mortality at older ages. In: Martin LG, Soldo BJ (eds) Racial and ethnic differences in the health of older Americans. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  15. Elo IT, Preston SH, Rosenwaike I, Hill M, Cheney TP (1996) Consistency of age reporting on death certificates and social security records among elderly African Americans. Soc Sci Res 25:292–307.  https://doi.org/10.1006/ssre.1996.0014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fenelon A (2013) An examination of black/white differences in the rate of age-related mortality increase. Demogr Res 29:441–471.  https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2013.29.17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grundy E (1997) Demography and gerontology: mortality trends among the oldest old. Ageing Soc 17:713–725.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X97006715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hill ME, Preston SH, Rosenwaike I (2000) Age reporting among white Americans aged 85+: results of a records linkage study. Demography 37(2):175–186.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2648119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hummer RA (1996) Black-white differences in health and mortality: a review and conceptual model. Sociol Q 37(1):105–125.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.1996.tb02333.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Janssen F, Peeters A, Mackenback JP, Kunst AE (2004) Relation between trends in late middle age mortality and trends in old age mortality-is there evidence for mortality selection? J Epidemiol Community Health 59:775–781.  https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2004.028407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johnson NE (2000) The racial crossover in comorbidity, disability, and mortality. Demography 37(2):267–283.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2648041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kestenbaum B (1992) A description of the extreme aged population based on improved Medicare enrollment data. Demography 29(4):565–580.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lariscy JT (2017) Black-white disparities in adult mortality: implications of differential records linkage for understanding the mortality crossover. Popul Res Policy Rev 36:137–156.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11113-016-9415-zCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu X, Witten M (1995) A biologically based explanation for mortality crossover in human populations. Gerontologist Soc Am 35(5):609–615.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/35.5.609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lynch SM, Brown JS, Harmsen KG (2003) Black-white differences in mortality compression and deceleration and the mortality crossover reconsidered. Res Aging 25(5):456–483.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027503254675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Manton KG (1982) Temporal and age variation of United States black/white cause-specific mortality differentials: a study of the recent changes in the relative health status of the United States black population. Gerentologist 22(2):170–179.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/22.2.170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Manton KG, Stallard E (1981) Methods for evaluating the heterogeneity of aging processes in human populations using vital statistics data: explaining the black/white mortality crossover by a model of mortality selection. Hum Biol 53(1):47–67Google Scholar
  28. Manton KG, Sandomirsky Poss S, Wing S (1979) The black/white mortality crossover: investigation from the perspective of the components of aging. The Gerontologist 19(3):291–300.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/19.3.291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Manton KG, Stallard E, Vaupel JW (1981) Methods for comparing the mortality experience of heterogeneous populations. Demography 18(3):389–410.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Manton KG, Stallard E, Vaupel JW (1986) Alternative models of the heterogeneity of mortality risks among the aged. J Am Stat Assoc 81(395):635–644.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1986.10478316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Manton KG, Stallard E, Wing S (1991) Analyses of black and white differentials in the age trajectory of mortality in two closed cohort studies. Stat Med 10:1043–1059.  https://doi.org/10.1002/sim.4780100705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Manton KG, Stallard E, Corder L (1997) Changes in the age dependence of mortality and disability: cohort and other determinants. Demography 34(1):135–157.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Markides KS, Black SA (1996) Race, ethnicity, and aging: the impact of inequality. In: Binstock RH, George LK, Marshall VW, Myers GC, Schulz JH (eds) Handbook of aging and the social sciences. Academic, San Diego, pp 153–170Google Scholar
  34. Markides KS, Machalek R (1984) Selective survival, aging and society. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 3:207–222.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0167-4943(84)90022-0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Masters RK (2012) Uncrossing the U.S. black-white mortality crossover: the role of cohort forces in life course mortality risk. Demography 49:773–796.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0107-yCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Masters RK, Hummer RA, Powers DA, Beck A, Lin SH, Finch BK (2014) Long-term trends in adult mortality for U.S. blacks and whites: an examination of period- and cohort-based changes. Demography 51:2047–2073.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-014-0343-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miller DM, Gindi RM, Parker JD (2011) Trends in record linkage refusal rates: characteristics of National Health Interview Survey participants who Refuse Record Linkage. In: American Statistical Association Joint Statistical Meeting, MiamiGoogle Scholar
  38. Modig K, Drefahl S, Ahlbom A (2013) Limitless longevity: comment on the contribution of rectangularization to the secular increase of life expectancy. Int J Epidemiol 42:914–916.  https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyt035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mohtashemi M, Levins R (2002) Qualitative analysis of the all-cause black-white mortality crossover. Bull Math Biol 64:147–173.  https://doi.org/10.1006/bulm.2001.0270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mortality Disparities in American Communities (2019) US Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/mdac
  41. Nam CB (1995) Another look at mortality crossovers. Biodemography Soc Biol 42:133–142.  https://doi.org/10.1080/19485565.1995.9988893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nam CB, Weatherby NL, Ockay KA (1978) Causes of death which contribute to the mortality crossover effect. Soc Biol 25(4):306–314.  https://doi.org/10.1080/19485565.1978.9988352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. National Center for Health Statistics. Office of Analysis and Epidemiology. (2019). The linkage of national center for health statistics survey data to the national death index – 2015 Linked Mortality File (LMF): methodology overview and analytic considerations, HyattsvilleGoogle Scholar
  44. National Death Index (2019) National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/ndi/index.htm
  45. National Longitudinal Mortality Study (2019) US Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/nlms
  46. Pearl R (1922) The biology of death. JB Lippincott, Philadelphia.  https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.61900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Preston SH, Elo IT (2006) Black mortality at very old ages in official US life tables: a skeptical appraisal. Popul Dev Rev 32(3):557–565.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1728-4457.2006.00137.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Preston SH, Elo IT, Rosenwaike I, Hill M (1996) African-American mortality at older ages: results of a matching study. Demography 33(2):193–209.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061872CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Preston SH, Elo IT, Stewart Q (1999) Effects of age misreporting on mortality estimates at older ages. Popul Stud 53:165–177.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00324720308075CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rogot E, Sorlie P, Johnson NJ (1986) Probabilistic methods in matching census samples to the National Death Index. J Chronic Dis 39:719–734.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0021-9681(86)90155-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rosenwaike I (1979) A new evaluation of United States census data on the extreme aged. Demography 16(2):279–288.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sahin DB, Heiland FW (2017) Black-white mortality differentials at old age: new evidence from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. In: Hoque MN et al (eds) Applied demography and public health. Applied demography series, vol 8. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43688-3_9Google Scholar
  53. Sautter JM, Thomas PA, Dupre ME, George LK (2012) Socioeconomic status and the black-white mortality crossover. Am J Public Health 102(8):1566–1571.  https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2011.300518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thornton RG, Nam CB (1968) The lower mortality rates of nonwhites at the older ages: an enigma in demographic analysis. Res Rep Soc Sci 11:1–8Google Scholar
  55. Vaupel JW, Yashin AI (1985) Heterogeneity’s ruses: some surprising effects of selection on population dynamics. Am Stat 39(3):176–185.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00031305.1985.10479424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vaupel JW, Manton KG, Stallard E (1979) The impact of heterogeneity in individual frailty on the dynamics of mortality. Demography 16(3):439–454.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Weiss KM (1990) The biodemography of variation in human frailty. Demography 27(2):185–206.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2061448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yao L, Robert SA (2011) Examining the racial crossover in mortality between African American and white older adults: a multilevel survival analysis of race, individual socioeconomic status, and neighborhood socioeconomic context. J Aging Res 2011:1–8.  https://doi.org/10.4061/2011/132073CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zarulli V (2016) Unobserved heterogeneity of frailty in the analysis of socioeconomic differences in heath and mortality. Eur J Popul 32:55–72.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-015-9361-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zelnik M (1969) Age patterns of mortality of American negroes: 1900–02 to 1959–61. J Am Stat Assoc 64(326):433–451.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1969.10500986CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital StatisticsNational Center for Health StatisticsHyattsvilleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kirill Andreev
    • 1
  1. 1.Population Division, Department of Economic and Social AffairsUnited NationsNew YorkUSA