New research suggests life expectancy among those with a college degree has continued to rise, while those without have experienced a decrease.
Princeton University published a new study by Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton that analyzed overall mortality in the United States from 1990 to 2018, and the results showed that people with bachelor’s degrees have started to live longer on average since 2010. It’s also worth pointing out that this would indicate college degrees have a bigger impact on life expectancy than race, with the race gap narrowing year after year.
“By 2018, Black Americans with a bachelor’s degree were much closer to whites with a degree in terms of life expectancy than to Black Americans without a degree,” Princeton noted.
Essentially, the mortality gap has widened when it comes to education, but narrowed when it comes to race. “Education turned out to be a really sharp knife in regard to death and the labor market,” Case told the Academic Times. These results do not take into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced life expectancy by a year on average for Americans.
“America is the richest large country in the world, with frontier medical technology, yet we still see large declines for Americans without a four-year degree, even prior to the arrival of COVID-19,” said Case. “Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States. Given that today, two-thirds of adults in America do not have a four-year college degree, this is a significant finding.”
The research does, however, consider the increase of “deaths of despair” in the United States, with drug deaths, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease increasing for those aged between 25 and 75. The death certificates used for the study did not reveal the place of birth, so the team behind it were unable to deduce life expectancy for immigrants.
"Good jobs have become increasingly rare for workers without a college diploma, many of whom have lost their jobs to globalization and automation, and for whom the cost of employer-provided health care has increasingly priced them out of the high-quality labor market,” said Deaton. “This has all contributed to this decline in adult life expectancy."