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To determine the association of birthplace (US-born vs.foreign-born) with mortality among blacks and whites in New York City, we examined death records for 5 years from 1988 to 1992 and the 1990 census data. Mortality rates by race and birthplace were compared for all causes of death and for specific causes. Although overall death rates for blacks generally exceeded those for whites (1224.8 per 100,000 inhabitants vs. 721.4 for males and 593.7 vs. 393.1 for females), foreign-born blacks had death rates (664.6 for males and 350.2 for females) slightly lower than those for whites. The most striking variation among blacks was among those aged 25 to 64 years. US-born black males were three times as likely (1588.9 vs. 525.2) and US-born black females were more than 2.5 times as likely (673.5 vs. 263.4) to die as were foreign-born blacks. Among US-bom blacks AIDS, homicide, and cancer for males and AIDS, heart disease, and cancer for females were the most important determinants of excess deaths, defined as the difference between observed deaths and expected deaths; these causes of death account for about half of the excess deaths for each sex. Among whites natives generally had higher death rates than migrants, but less prominently and consistently so than for blacks. Excess mortality of blacks is largely explained by higher death rates of US-born compared with foreign-born Americans.