Saturday, April 10, 2021

African Americans Still Lag Behind in Life Expectancy in Cambria County


Cambria County











African American








*Pennsylvania life expectancy by race numbers are from 2010 (Measure of America, 2013) 

In my book, Wuthering Depths in Johnstown: By the Numbers.  I wrote extensively on the 2020 County Health Rankings for Cambria County (where Johnstown is located).  The number that jumped out at me most was racial disparities in mortality data in Cambria county where African Americans had a life expectancy of 65.6 years, Caucasians 76.2 years, and Hispanics 89.0 years.  

This year's life expectancy numbers from the 2021 County Health Rankings are displayed above in the table above for the years 2017-2019 (corona virus deaths are not included).  Cambria County's overall life expectancy increased from 75.6 to 76.1 years (63rd in PA).  Among counties with life expectancies by race, African American life expectancy increased by 1.7 years to 67.3 (the lowest in PA).  Caucasians increased by 0.2 years to 76.4 (3rd lowest ).  Hispanics increased the most by 2.3 years to 91.3 (5th highest in the state).  

Counties with miniscule racial/ethnic minority populations do not have a breakdown for life expectancy by race.  African Americans comprise 3.5% (10.9% of PA) of the county and Hispanics make up 1.8% (7.8% of PA).  Caucasians comprise 92.6% of the county (75.7% of the state).  Approximately 59% of the African Americans in the county live inside the city of Johnstown

Overall the county is 2.6 years behind the US life expectancy.  Caucasians are 2.2 years behind, African Americans are 7.4 years behind, and Hispanics are 9.5 years ahead of the US rate.  Life expectancy is not included in the overall County Health Rankings for Health Outcomes.  Mortality Measured as Years of Potential Life Lost is factored into the rankings which is a measure related to life expectancy.

Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is the number of years lost if someone dies before age 75.  For example, if someone dies at age 25, they have 50 years for potential life lost.  The overall YPLL rate is 9,700 years per 100,000 for the county.  It is 19,900 years per 100,000 for African Americans and 9,400 years per 100,000 for Caucasians.  

The premature age adjusted death rate for the county is the number of deaths under age 75 per 100,000 for the years 2017-2019.  For Cambria it is 440 deaths/100,000.  For African Americans it is 840 deaths/100,000 and for Caucasians it is 430 deaths/100,000.  For Pennsylvania, the overall rate is 350 deaths/100,000.  This measure is provided by County Health Rankings but not factored into the rankings.

The most shocking mortality rate is the child mortality rate which is the number of deaths under the age of 18 per 100,000 for the years 2016-2019.  For Cambria the rate is 50 deaths/100,000 which is the same as PA's rate.  For African Americans in the county, it is 210 deaths/100,000 (the highest in PA) while for Caucasians it is 40 deaths/100,000.  The rate is more than 5 times higher for African Americans. 

The health factors data for the county provides some clues for this discrepancy.  I will discus it in my next post.

**Related Posts**

Why do African Americans live to be 64.8 years in Cambria County?