Trends in the gap in life expectancy between Arabs and Jews in Israel between 1975 and 2004

Wasef Na'amnih, Khitam Muhsen, Jalal Tarabeia, Ameed Saabneh, Manfred S. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To examine trends in the Arab-Jew life expectancy gap in Israel during 1975-2004 and to determine the contribution of age groups and causes of death to changes in the gap. Methods: Data on life expectancy and mortality rates by cause of death, for Arabs and Jews, were obtained from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Standard life table techniques were used for decomposition analysis to explore the contribution to changes in the life expectancy gap. Results: While life expectancy of Arabs was lower than Jews during 1975-2004, there was a decline in this gap during 1975-98. However, during the following years the gap increased and the difference in 2004 was 3.2 years for men and 4 years for women. During 2000-04, the main causes of death contributing to the gap in life expectancy were chronic diseases, mainly heart disease and diabetes. Heart disease mortality contributed mostly to the overall life expectancy gap for males and females, accounting for 0.89 and 1.17 years, respectively. The age group >65 years contributed most to the gap (1.33 years among males, and 2.42 years among females). Conclusions: Following a period of reduction, the gap in life expectancy at birth between Arabs and Jews in Israel has started to widen. These findings indicate the need for increased attention to primary prevention and disease management in the Arab population. Reducing social and individual risk factors for major causes of death should be a national priority. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1324-1332
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Arabs
  • Causes of death
  • Decomposition analysis
  • Gap
  • Jews
  • Life expectancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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