The hispanic mortality advantage and ethnic misclassification on US death certificates

Elizabeth Arias, Karl Eschbach, William S. Schauman, Eric L. Backlund, Paul D. Sorlie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Objectives. We tested the data artifact hypothesis regarding the Hispanic mortality advantage by investigating whether and to what degree this advantage is explained by Hispanic origin misclassification on US death certificates. Methods. We used the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, which links Current Population Survey records to death certificates for 1979 through 1998, to estimate the sensitivity, specificity, and net ascertainment of Hispanic ethnicity on death certificates compared with survey classifications. Using national vital statistics mortality data, we estimated Hispanic age-specific and age-adjusted death rates, which were uncorrected and corrected for death certificate mis-classification, and produced death rate ratios comparing the Hispanic with the non-Hispanic White population. Results. Hispanic origin reporting on death certificates in the United States is reasonably good. The net ascertainment of Hispanic origin is just 5% higher on survey records than on death certificates. Corrected age-adjusted death rates for Hispanics are lower than those for the non-Hispanic White population by close to 20%. Conclusions. The Hispanic mortality paradox is not explained by an incon-gruence between ethnic classification in vital registration and population data systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S171-S177
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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