Level of education can predict death in the United States

January 03, 2002

Education, income inequality, and mortality: a multiple regression analysis BMJ Volume 324, pp 23-25

Lack of high school education is a powerful predictor of death in the United States, concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

Using census statistics for the years 1989 and 1990 for all US states, Professor Andreas Muller tested whether the relation between income inequality and probability of dying in the United States was because of different levels of formal education.

He found that a 20% increase in people aged 18 years or over without a high school diploma was associated with an increase of 2.1 deaths per 1,000 population.

Despite some study limitations, this finding suggests that lack of high school education accounts for the income inequality effect and is a powerful predictor of variation in death rates among US states, says the author.

Further analysis indicated that lack of high school education was related to lack of health insurance, belonging to economically depressed minority groups, working in jobs with high risk of injury, and smoking. These results suggest that lack of material resources, risk of occupational injury, and learnt risk behaviour might be reflected in the large education-mortality effect, he concludes.
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BMJ

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