UH study: Native Hawaiians have lower life expectancy when they stay in the islands
A study released by public health researchers at the University of Hawaii analyzed the life expectancies of the major racial and ethnic groups in Hawaii.
It measured the number of years that people live in a healthy state. The authors of the findings say that it provides a more complete estimate of population health than life expectancies.
Unfortunately Native Hawaiians are on the lowest rung in many health categories.
"Differences in life expectancy are determined by many things but primarily by socioeconomic status," said Kathryn Braun, a UH Manoa public health professor.
Other statistics show Native Hawaiians actually have high life expectancies -- but in different parts of the country.
The study's co-author says — its a reflection of deeply-rooted disenfranchisement.
"Fewer opportunities for education, fewer opportunities for work, fewer opportunities for health insurance, fewer opportunities for housing, therefore lower life expectancy."
In a 2017 report, the U.S. Census Bureau projected that Native Hawaiians across the entire United States are living to roughly 80 years old, compared to 76.6 only in Hawaii.
"Those who leave tend to do very well because there are many more opportunities for education and employment."
The solution isn't clear-cut, but both the co-author and OHA trustee, Kelii Akina — say legislation will be key.
"Number one improved access to healthcare. Not only western medicine but traditional Hawaiian medicine as well. Number two they need to have better lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise and number three we need to have better financial situations to support our families."
Study co-author Dr. Kathryn Braun believes a minimum wage increase would lead to better access to healthcare and eventually higher life expectancies.