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Mortality estimates have consistently pointed to a sizable health advantage for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders compared to white Americans, but a question remains as to whether mortality estimates for Asian/Pacific Islanders are reliable. This paper presents mortality estimates for Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Other Asian and Pacific Islanders, all Asian and Pacific Islanders combined, and for white Americans in 1989-91 based on vital statistics and census data, and for Asian and Pacific Islanders and whites based on the National Longitudinal Mortality Survey. The paper reviews evidence on data quality and discusses possible biases in estimated death rates. It ends with a brief discussion of cause specific mortality differentials. Relative to whites, Asian and Pacific Islanders are found to have lower mortality at ages 25 and above. Lower death rates from heart disease and cancer among Asian/Pacific Islanders than white Americans account for most of the all cause differentials at ages 45+. Substantial uncertainty remains, however, about the exact level of mortality among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders residing in the United States.
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