Errors in reporting education on the death certificate: some findings for older male decedents from New York State and Utah

Am J Epidemiol. 1989 Jul;130(1):188-92. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a115311.


This paper examines possible biases in death certificate data on education that may be used in studies of mortality and socioeconomic status. By means of a matching study conducted in 1987, self-reported education level in a large-scale survey (Cancer Prevention Study II) is compared with education as subsequently reported by next of kin on death certificates in upstate New York and in Utah. These are the only two states that presently have an education item on the certificates. In both state samples, agreement was highest for high school graduates and for those with graduate school education. Overall agreement was 68%, indicating serious problems in the accuracy of education reporting. Possible systematic biases in the new death certificate item on education are indicated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Death Certificates*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • New York
  • Sex Factors
  • Utah