Explaining the Rise in Educational Gradients in Mortality

47 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2010

See all articles by David M. Cutler

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Fabian Lange

Yale University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Ellen Meara

Harvard Medical School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Seth Richards-Shubik

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2010

Abstract

The long-standing inverse relationship between education and mortality strengthened substantially later in the 20th century. This paper examines the reasons for this increase. We show that behavioral risk factors are not of primary importance. Smoking has declined more for the better educated, but not enough to explain the trend. Obesity has risen at similar rates across education groups, and control of blood pressure and cholesterol has increased fairly uniformly as well. Rather, our results show that the mortality returns to risk factors, and conditional on risk factors, the return to education, have grown over time.

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Suggested Citation

Cutler, David M. and Lange, Fabian and Meara, Ellen and Richards-Shubik, Seth and Ruhm, Christopher J., Explaining the Rise in Educational Gradients in Mortality (January 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15678. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1540983

David M. Cutler (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Fabian Lange

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Ellen Meara

Harvard Medical School ( email )

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Seth Richards-Shubik

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

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Christopher J. Ruhm

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

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Germany

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