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Explaining the Rise in Educational Gradients in Mortality

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Fabian Lange
  • Ellen Meara
  • Seth Richards
  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

The long-standing inverse relationship between education and mortality strengthened substantially later in the 20th century. This paper examines the reasons for this increase. We show that behavioral risk factors are not of primary importance. Smoking has declined more for the better educated, but not enough to explain the trend. Obesity has risen at similar rates across education groups, and control of blood pressure and cholesterol has increased fairly uniformly as well. Rather, our results show that the mortality returns to risk factors, and conditional on risk factors, the return to education, have grown over time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15678.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Publication status: published as Cutler, David M, Fabian Lange, Ellen Meara, Seth Richards-Shubik, and Christopher J Ruhme. 2011. Rising Educational Gradients in Mortality: The Role of Behavioral Factors. Journal of Health Economcis 30, no. 6: 1174-1187.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15678

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  1. David M. Cutler, 2008. "Are We Finally Winning the War on Cancer?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
  2. James Smith, 2007. "Diabetes and the Rise of the SES Health Gradient," NBER Working Papers 12905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kenkel, D.S., 1988. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, And Schooling," Papers, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics 10-88-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Dana P. Goldman & James P. Smith, 2004. "Can Patient Self-Management Help Explain the SES Health Gradient?," HEW, EconWPA 0403004, EconWPA.
  5. John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Allison B. Rosen, 2009. "Is the U.S. Population Behaving Healthier?," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 423-442 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact Of Air Pollution On Infant Mortality: Evidence From Geographic Variation In Pollution Shocks Induced By A Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167, August.
  8. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1.
  9. Harriet Duleep, 1989. "Measuring socioeconomic mortality differentials over time," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 345-351, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Strulik, Holger, 2011. "Health and Education: Understanding the Gradient," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät dp-487, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  2. Mark E. McGovern, 2012. "Don't stress: early life conditions, hypertension and selection into associated risk factors," Working Papers, Geary Institute, University College Dublin 201223, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  3. Cipollone, Piero & Rosolia, Alfonso, 2011. "Schooling and youth mortality : learning from a mass military exemption," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5680, The World Bank.

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