Trends in healthy life expectancy in the United States, 1970-1990: gender, racial, and educational differences

Soc Sci Med. 2001 Jun;52(11):1629-41. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00273-2.


This paper examines healthy life expectancy by gender and education for whites and African Americans in the United States at three dates: 1970, 1980 and 1990. There are large racial and educational differences in healthy life expectancy at each date and differences by education in healthy life expectancy are even larger than differences in total life expectancy. Large racial differences exist in healthy life expectancy at lower levels of education. Educational differences in healthy life expectancy have been increasing over time because of widening differentials in both mortality and morbidity. In the last decade, a compression of morbidity has begun among those of higher educational status; those of lower status are still experiencing expansion of morbidity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Black or African American / education
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / ethnology
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Mortality / trends
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / education
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*