The gap gets bigger: changes in mortality and life expectancy, by education, 1981-2000

Health Aff (Millwood). 2008 Mar-Apr;27(2):350-60. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.27.2.350.


In this paper we examine educational disparities in mortality and life expectancy among non-Hispanic blacks and whites in the 1980s and 1990s. Despite increased attention and substantial dollars directed to groups with low socioeconomic status, within race and gender groups, the educational gap in life expectancy is rising, mainly because of rising differentials among the elderly. With the exception of black males, all recent gains in life expectancy at age twenty-five have occurred among better-educated groups, raising educational differentials in life expectancy by 30 percent. Differential trends in smoking-related diseases explain at least 20 percent of this trend.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / ethnology
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / ethnology
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data