UH Study: Hawaiʻi Life Expectancy Examined

April 5, 2017, 4:16 PM HST · Updated April 5, 4:19 PM
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The life expectancy at birth in Hawaiʻi in 2010 was 82.4 years, 3.7 years higher than the national average for the total US population where the average expectancy was 78.7 years, according to a study by researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

UH researchers Yan Yan Wu, Kathryn Braun and Lynne Wilkens contributed to the article, “Life Expectancies in Hawaiʻi: A Multi-ethnic Analysis of 2010 Life Tables,” which was published in the January 2017 issue of the Hawaiʻi Journal of Medicine and Public Health.

According to their research, life expectancy in Hawaiʻi in 2010 was higher than for US-dwelling Caucasians (78.9) and African Americans (75.1).

The study noted that life expectancy at birth in Hawaiʻi has increased consistently over the years, going from 69.5 years in 1950, to 82.4 years in 2010.

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However, longevity disparities seen in past decades continue to persist between the longest-living groups—Japanese and Chinese—and the shortest-living group—Native Hawaiians—with a gap of approximately 10 years. Further, females lived six years longer than males on average.

Researchers say racial/ethnic disparities in longevity can be partially explained by differences in socioeconomic status, health behaviors, health-care access, adverse childhood events and racism.

According to the study, Native Hawaiians continue to have the shortest life expectancy of the ethnic groups examined, requiring expanded efforts to address Native Hawaiian health across the life course. The findings also support more ethnic-specific research to understand the health-care needs and utilization patterns of each group.

Wu is an assistant professor of biostatistics in the Office of Public Health Studies of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, Braun is the director of the Office of Public Health Studies, and Wilkens is the co-director of the Biostatistics and Informatics Shared Resource at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center.  Co-authors also include Alvin Onaka, Brian Horiuchi and Karyn Tottori from the Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

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