Education Gradients in Mortality Trends by Gender and Race

44 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2021 Last revised: 25 Feb 2021

See all articles by Adam Leive

Adam Leive

University of Virginia

Christopher J. Ruhm

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: January 2021

Abstract

We examine gender and race differences in education-mortality trends among 25-64 year olds in the United States from 2001-2018. The data indicate that the relationships are heterogeneous with larger mortality reductions for less educated non-Hispanic blacks than other races and mixed results at higher levels of schooling. We also investigate the causes of death associated with changes in overall mortality rates and identify key differences across race groups and education quartiles. Drug overdoses represent the single most important contributor to increased death rates for all groups, but the sizes of these effects vary sharply. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, and HIV are the most significant sources of mortality rate reductions, with the patterns again heterogeneous across sex, race, and educational attainment. These results suggest the limitations of focusing on all-cause mortality rates when attempting to determine the sources of positive and negative health shocks affecting population subgroups. Examining specific causes of death can provide a more nuanced understanding of these trends.

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Suggested Citation

Leive, Adam and Ruhm, Christopher J., Education Gradients in Mortality Trends by Gender and Race (January 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28419, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3776987

Adam Leive (Contact Author)

University of Virginia ( email )

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Christopher J. Ruhm

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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