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Educational Degrees and Adult Mortality Risk in the United States


Rogers, Richard G.; Everett, Bethany G.; Zajacova, Anna; & Hummer, Robert A. (2010). Educational Degrees and Adult Mortality Risk in the United States. Biodemography and Social Biology, 56(1), 80-99. PMCID: PMC3184464


We present the first published estimates of U. S. adult mortality risk by detailed educational degree, including advanced postsecondary degrees. We use the 1997-2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Linked Mortality Files and Cox proportional hazards models to reveal wide graded differences in mortality by educational degree. Compared to adults who have a professional degree, those with an MA are 5 percent, those with a BA are 26 percent, those with an AA are 44 percent, those with some college are 65 percent, high school graduates are 80 percent, and those with a GED or 12 or fewer years of schooling are at least 95 percent more likely to die during the follow-up period, net of sociodemographic controls. These differentials vary by gender and cohort. Advanced educational degrees are associated not only with increased workforce skill level but with a reduced risk of death.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Biodemography and Social Biology


Rogers, Richard G.
Everett, Bethany G.
Zajacova, Anna
Hummer, Robert A.