Has Mortality Risen Disproportionately for the Least Educated?

We examine whether the least educated population groups experienced the worst mortality trends at the beginning of the 21st century by measuring changes in mortality across education quartiles. We document sharply differing gender patterns. Among women, mortality trends improved fairly monotonically with education. Conversely, male trends for the lowest three education quartiles were often similar. For both sexes, the gap in mortality between the top 25 percent and the bottom 75 percent is growing. However, there are many groups for whom these patterns are reversed – with better experiences for the less educated – or where the differences are statistically indistinguishable.

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Christopher J. Ruhm