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Who Lives Longer? Hawai‘i Life Expectancies Subject of UH Study

April 5, 2017, 11:45 AM HST
* Updated April 5, 2:09 PM
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UH Researchers (L–R) Kathryn Braun, Yan Yan Wu and Lynne Wilkens. UH photos.

According to a study by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers, the life expectancy at birth in Hawaiʻi in 2010 was 82.4 years—3.7 years longer than the national average for the total U.S. population, which is 78.7 years.

Researchers Yan Yan Wu, Kathryn Braun and Lynne Wilkens also found Hawaiʻi ‘s 2010 figure for life expectancy was also higher than for U.S.-dwelling Caucasians (78.9) and African Americans (75.1).

The researchers’ article, “Life Expectancies in Hawaiʻi: A Multi-ethnic Analysis of 2010 Life Tables,” was published in the January 2017 issue of the Hawaiʻi Journal of Medicine and Public Health.

Life expectancy at birth in Hawaiʻi has increased consistently over the years. It was 69.5 years in 1950; 82.4 years in 2010.

However, longevity disparities seen in past decades continue to persist between the longest-living groups—Japanese and Chinese—and the shortest-living group—Native Hawaiians—with a gap of approximately 10 years.


Further, females lived six years longer than males, on average.


Racial/ethnic disparities in longevity can be partially explained by differences in socioeconomic status, health behaviors, healthcare access, adverse childhood events and racism.

Native Hawaiians continue to have the shortest life expectancy of the ethnic groups examined, requiring expanded efforts to address Native Hawaiian health across the life course.

The study’s findings also support more ethnic-specific research to understand the healthcare needs and utilization patterns of each group.


Wu is an assistant professor of biostatistics in the Office of Public Health Studies of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

Braun is the director of the Office of Public Health Studies.

Wilkens is the co-director of the Biostatistics and Informatics Shared Resource at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center.

Co-authors also include Alvin Onaka, Brian Horiuchi and Karyn Tottori from the Hawaiʻi Department of Health.


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