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Explaining the Rise in Educational Gradients in Mortality

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Fabian Lange & Ellen Meara & Seth Richards & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2010. "Explaining the Rise in Educational Gradients in Mortality," NBER Working Papers 15678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15678
    Note: HC HE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15678.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David M. Cutler, 2008. "Are We Finally Winning the War on Cancer?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
    2. Dana P. Goldman & James P. Smith, 2004. "Can Patient Self-Management Help Explain the SES Health Gradient?," HEW 0403004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
    4. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167.
    5. Harriet Duleep, 1989. "Measuring socioeconomic mortality differentials over time," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(2), pages 345-351, May.
    6. James Smith, 2007. "Diabetes and the Rise of the SES Health Gradient," NBER Working Papers 12905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    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. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cipollone, Piero & Rosolia, Alfonso, 2011. "Schooling and Youth Mortality: Learning from a Mass Military Exemption," CEPR Discussion Papers 8431, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Mark E. McGovern, 2012. "Don't stress: early life conditions, hypertension and selection into associated risk factors," Working Papers 201223, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    3. Parro, Francisco & Pohl, R. Vincent, 2018. "Health Shocks, Human Capital, and Labor Market Outcomes," MPRA Paper 87238, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Strulik, Holger, 2011. "Health and Education: Understanding the Gradient," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-487, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    5. Masters, Ryan K. & Link, Bruce G. & Phelan, Jo C., 2015. "Trends in education gradients of ‘preventable’ mortality: A test of fundamental cause theory," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 19-28.
    6. Jennifer Montez & Erika Sabbath & M. Glymour & Lisa Berkman, 2014. "Trends in Work–Family Context Among U.S. Women by Education Level, 1976 to 2011," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 33(5), pages 629-648, October.
    7. Strulik, Holger, 2016. "The return to education in terms of wealth and health," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 293, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    8. Aïda Solé-Auró & Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez & Eileen Crimmins, 2015. "Are Differences in Disability-Free Life Expectancy by Gender, Race, and Education Widening at Older Ages?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 34(1), pages 1-18, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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