Education, gender, and mortality: does schooling have the same effect on mortality for men and women in the US?

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Oct;63(8):2176-90. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.04.031. Epub 2006 Jun 15.


In this paper I examine whether the effect of education on mortality for US adults differs by gender. Discrete time logit models were used to analyze a nationally representative dataset (NHANES I) with 12,036 adults who were 25-74-years-old at the baseline survey in 1971-1975, and then re-interviewed three times through 1992. Demographic characteristics, health behaviors and economic status were controlled as potential confounding or mediating factors in the education-mortality relationship. The results showed that education had a comparable effect on mortality for men and women. No statistically significant gender difference was found in all-cause mortality, or mortality by cause of death, among younger persons, and among the elderly. Analysis by marital status, however, suggested that these findings apply only to married men and women. Among the divorced, there was a statistically significant gender difference whereby education had no effect on mortality for men while divorced women evidenced a strong education gradient (seven percent lower odds of dying for each year of schooling). Possible explanations for these patterns are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology