Population Research and Policy Review 16: 197–211, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Causes of death contributing to changes in life expectancy
in New York City between 1983 and 1992
E. JAMES FORDYCE
, ROY SHUM
, TEJINDER PAL SINGH
& SUSAN FORLENZA
Ofﬁce of AIDS Surveillance, and
Ofﬁce of Vital Statistics, New York City Department of
Abstract. Recent changes in life expectancy among race and sex groups in New York City
were evaluated by analyzing the relative effects of different causes of death in 1983 and 1992,
a period in which life expectancy at birth declined by 1.1 years among white males, remained
unchanged among black males, and increased 1.2 years among white and black females. Heart
disease was found to be the leading cause of death making positive contributions to changes in
life expectancy regardless of race or sex, and HIV/AIDS was the leading negative contributor.
Overall, deaths from infectious diseases and external causes are becoming more important
compared to degenerative conditions in explaining trends in life expectancy in New York
City. Past improvements in survival due to reductions in infant deaths are being reversed due
to an increase in deaths from preventable causes such as violence and AIDS. Future gains
in longevity may require a greater emphasis on policies and programs emphasizing conﬂict
resolution and HIV prevention.
Key words: AIDS, Life expectancy, Race, Trends
After decades of improvement in life expectancy in the USA, a disconcerting
trend emerged during the 1980s. Whereaslife expectancyhad been increasing
for black and white males and females, decreases were observed between
1984 and 1989 among black males (
0.73 years) and black females (
years). In contrast, there were improvements of 0.83 and 0.50 years among
white males and females respectively (Kochanek, Maurer & Rosenberg 1994).
These changes in life expectancy were the net result of increases or decreases
in different causes of death among speciﬁed age, sex and race groups.
Kochanek,Maurer& Rosenberg (1994) found that the leading positive con-
tribution to changes in life expectancy among all four major sex/race groups
was from heart disease. The leading negative contribution was from human
immunodeﬁciency virus (HIV) infection, the causative agent of acquired