Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Is Life Expectancy Falling among the Least Educated?

Not according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research. The least-educated Americans are not who they used to be, say CRR researchers, and that must be taken into account when determining trends in life expectancy.

Back when dropping out of high school was practically the norm, the least educated were part of the economic mainstream. Today, they are an increasingly disadvantaged economic minority. That's why comparing the life expectancy of high school dropouts over time is like comparing apples and oranges. To solve this problem, CRR researchers took a different approach. They examined life expectancy trends between 1979 and 2011 by dividing the population in each year into educational attainment quartiles. By defining educational attainment relatively rather than absolutely, the decline in life expectancy among the least educated disappears.

In fact, the life expectancy of the least educated increased between 1979 and 2011, as did the life expectancy of every other educational attainment quartile. But the gains were bigger for the better-educated groups and biggest among the most highly educated. Life expectancy is increasing for all, conclude the researchers. But "mortality inequality is worsening over time."

Source: Center for Retirement Research, Rising Inequality in Life Expectancy by Socioeconomic Status

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