The gap in life expectancy between Black and White Americans is at its narrowest since the federal government started systematically tracking it in the 1930s, but a difference of nearly four years remains, and federal researchers have detailed why in a new report.

They found that higher rates of death from heart disease, cancer, homicide, diabetes and infant mortality accounted for more than half the Black disadvantage in 2010, according to the report by the National Center for Health Statistics, the federal agency that tracks vital statistics for the United States.

Still, Blacks have made notable gains in life expectancy in recent decades that demographers say reflect improvements in medical treatment as well as in the socioeconomic position of Blacks in America. Life expectancy at birth was up by 17 percent since 1970, far higher than the 11 percent increase for Whites over the same period.

Read it at NY Times.