Education and longevity: a demographic perspective

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Domantas JASILIONIS, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany
Vladimir SHKOLNIKOV, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany
In the second half of the 20th century, the advances in human longevity observed have been accompanied by an increase in the disparities between countries and regions. This variation can be explained using the convergence-divergence framework, which suggests that each major epidemiological change induces a divergence in mortality trends. Historical evidence indicates that the divergence phase is eventually followed by a phase in which mortality trends converge. Similar divergence-convergence stages related to epidemiological transitions can be observed in subnational groups within countries. The most advanced countries and population groups with the highest life expectancy levels can be regarded as vanguards who are preparing the way for others to achieve higher levels of longevity. Education is one of the strongest predictors of life expectancy. Scarce empirical evidence suggests that both relative and absolute mortality differences by education within countries have been increasing, even in the most developed and egalitarian countries. Such studies shedding more light on the changing mortality patterns of educational groups may provide new perspectives on human longevity and inspire further discussion about the possibilities for extending human life expectancy under the current macroscopic conditions at the national level. Using a demographer’s perspective, the paper provides new evidence and insights about the persistence of longevity advances of high education groups in developed countries.