The Elusive Quest for Black Progress in the U.S.

Written by on May 26, 2023

Life expectancy is one of the oldest and surest indicators we have of both human suffering and human progress. Wars, famines, the 1918 flu, vaccines, pasteurization, rising crop yields — so many events over time are encoded in the line of life expectancy, but its overall astonishing ascent is among the best cases for 20th-century humankind that can be made.

I have been staring for months at a graph of life expectancy for Black and white Americans from 1900 to 2017. It tells a story of persistent, if uneven . . .

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