U.S. death rates identified by county, racial and ethnic groups

A physician types on a computer while working in a medical setting.

Through coordinated research aimed to identify and alleviate health disparities, researchers collected information about 19 causes of death between 2000 and 2019 from more than 3,100 U.S. counties. They found that people identifying as American Indian and Alaska Native or Black had disproportionate death rates compared to those identifying as white. Conversely, people who identified as Asian and Latino had lower death rates for many conditions compared to all groups.

The researchers also found that death rates could vary by region, condition, and race or ethnicity. For example, death rates due to heart disease, the leading cause of death, were similar to overall death rates. Rates were higher for people living in parts of the South and Midwest compared to the national average. They were lower in metropolitan areas and in parts of the Northwest. The researchers also found that measures of inequality overlapped with premature death rates, including deaths linked to heart disease.

The study published in The Lancet and was supported by several NIH institutes, including NHLBI.