Rising Educational Gradients in Mortality: The Role of Behavioral Risk Factors

Posted: 15 Mar 2015

See all articles by Seth Richards-Shubik

Seth Richards-Shubik

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

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)

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: 2011

Abstract

The long-standing inverse relationship between education and mortality strengthened substantially at the end of the 20th century. This paper examines the reasons for this increase. We show that behavioral risk factors are not of primary importance. Smoking declined more for the better educated, but not enough to explain the trend. Obesity rose at similar rates across education groups, and control of blood pressure and cholesterol 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.

Keywords: Health inequality; Risk factors; Education and mortality; Smoking; Obesity

JEL Classification: I10, I20, J11

Suggested Citation

Richards-Shubik, Seth and Cutler, David M. and Lange, Fabian and Meara, Ellen and Ruhm, Christopher J., Rising Educational Gradients in Mortality: The Role of Behavioral Risk Factors (2011). Journal of Health Economics, Vol. 30, No. 6, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2577960

Seth Richards-Shubik (Contact Author)

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

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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617-495-8570 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Fabian Lange

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
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United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ellen Meara

Harvard Medical School ( email )

Department of Health Care Policy
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-432-3537 (Phone)
617-432-0173 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

Christopher J. Ruhm

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

235 McCormick Rd.
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Charlottesville, VA 22904-4893
United States
434-924-7581 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://batten.virginia.edu/cruhm.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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