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Life-expectancy "gap" grows between whites and blacks

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin is the only state where life expectancy rates for whites and blacks grew further apart since 1990. In a new study published in the Health Affairs Journal, scientists found that white men in the Badger State lived an average of 7.9-years longer than blacks in 2010. That gap grew from 7.7-years in 1990. For Wisconsin women, the gap grew even larger.

White women lived 6.4-years longer than blacks in 2010, up from four-point-nine years two decades ago. Nationally, life expectancy differences dropped between the races over the 20 years of the study by over two-and-a-half years for men and a year-and-a-half for women.

National life expectancy gaps have been figured for some time -- but this is the first time that states were examined. The figures were obtained using death certificates and Census data. U-W public health professor Geoffrey Swain said one reason for Wisconsin's gap is that the state is the worst in the country for the general well-being of African-American youngsters. That was according to the annual "Kids Count" survey released last month. Swain and U-W Milwaukee expert David Pate said the gaps could be improved with more study. Pate says Wisconsin needs to have a "real conversation" about this "without pointing fingers."