The Dynamics of Health Disparities; U.S. Mortality Disparities by Education, 1989-2005

Richard Miech, University of Colorado at Denver
Fred C. Pampel, University of Colorado at Boulder
Jinyoung Kim, Korea University
Richard G. Rogers, University of Colorado at Boulder

In this paper we examine the extent to which newly emerging or growing mortality disparities by education are present in the U.S. and the role that they play in the perpetuation of U.S. mortality disparities. We focus on ~100 major causes of death and for each one investigate whether mortality disparities increased or decreased from 1989-2005. The results indicate that widening disparities play a substantial role in U.S. mortality disparities: were it not for newly widening disparities from 1989 to 2005, then the level of mortality disparities in the U.S. would be 20% smaller than it is today. We find also that it is surprisingly easy to predict which causes of death will widen in the near future. We conclude that serious efforts to reduce mortality disparities in the U.S. should focus not only on reducing existing mortality disparities, but also on preventing new ones from forming or growing.

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Presented in Session 128: Socioeconomic Differentials in Mortality