Widening mortality disparities by educational attainment among native-born Americans adults over 3 decades of follow up: the mystery deepens

Gross, Tal; Glied, Sherry; Muennig, Peter A.

Mortality disparities between high school dropouts and high school graduates may be widening over time. These changes could simply reflect demographic changes among dropouts over time or could represent changes to the cognitive or social benefits of education itself. We used a unique dataset that contains 32 years of survey data, 38 years of mortality follow-up data, and a wide array of psychological, sociological, cognitive, and demographic questions to explore the underlying causes of widening disparities in survival among high school dropouts relative to graduates. We focus on individuals surveyed from 1978 through 1997, and focus on ten-year survival for each respondent. We confirm that mortality disparities between high school dropouts and high school graduates have widened over time. We also find that the racial composition, parental education, racial mix of neighborhoods, income, and verbal IQ of high school dropouts and high school graduates have changed greatly over the past three decades. However, while each of these factors is itself an important determinant of survival, we find that none of these factors (or combinations of them) explain the widening mortality disparities by high school graduation status over the two time periods we study. The widening disparities in survival time by educational attainment we observe are not linked to changes in the socio-demographic characteristics of high school dropouts relative to high school graduates.


Also Published In

International Journal of Healthcare

More About This Work

Academic Units
Health Policy and Management
Sciedu Press
Published Here
November 15, 2016