Ascertainment of Hispanic ethnicity on California death certificates: Implications for the explanation of the Hispanic mortality advantage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations


Objectives. We determined the size and correlates of underascertainment of Hispanic ethnicity on California death certificates. Methods. We used 1999 to 2000 vital registration data. We compared Hispanic ethnicity reported on the death certificate to Hispanic ethnicity derived from birthplace for the foreign-born and an algorithm that used first and last name and percentage of Hispanics in the county of residence for the US-born. We validated death certificate nativity by comparing data with that in linked Social Security Administration records. Results. Ethnicity and birthplace information was concordant for foreign-born Hispanics, who have mortality rates that are 25% to 30% lower than those of non-Hispanic Whites. Death certificates likely underascertain deaths of US-born Hispanics, particularly at older ages, for persons with more education, and in census tracts with lower percentages of Hispanics. Conservative correction for underascertainment eliminates the Hispanic mortality advantage for US-born men. Conclusions. Hispanic ethnicity is accurately ascertained on the California death certificate for immigrants. Immigrant Hispanics have lower age-adjusted mortality rates than do non-Hispanic Whites. For US-born Hispanics, the mortality advantage compared with non-Hispanic Whites is smaller and may be explained by underreporting of Hispanic ethnicity on the death certificate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2209-2215
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this