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Am J Public Health. 2006 Sep;96(9):1686-92. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

Rethinking the Hispanic paradox: death rates and life expectancy for US non-Hispanic White and Hispanic populations.

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  • 1University of Texas School of Public Health, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.



We examined the "Hispanic paradox," whereby persons of Hispanic origin seemed to experience lower mortality than the non-Hispanic White population. This paradox coincided with a change from the classification of deaths and population by Spanish surname to the use of Hispanic-origin questions in the census and vital statistics.


To estimate US Hispanic and non-Hispanic White mortality, we applied a familiar relation between death rates for population subgroups to Hispanic and non-Hispanic White population death rates. We calculated age-specific death rates for the Hispanic population and the non-Hispanic White population and computed life tables for each. Result. For Texas between 1980 (surname) and 1990 (origin), the change in Hispanic deaths in persons aged 65 years or older was only half as great as the change in population size, implying a relative omission of 15% to 20% of deaths. By a different approach, the life tables for the US Hispanic and non-Hispanic White populations pointed to a similar omission.


There is no "Hispanic paradox." The Hispanic paradox described in past research derives from inconsistencies in counts of Hispanic-origin deaths and populations.

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