What is it about?

Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States. We explore what the BA divide has done to longevity, focusing on a measure of expected years lived between ages 25 and 75. In the richest large country in the world, with frontier medical technology, expected years lived between 25 and 75 declined for most of a decade for men and women without a four-year degree, even prior to the arrival of COVID-19. For those with and without a BA, racial divides narrowed by 70 percent between 1990 and 2018, while educational divides more than doubled for both Blacks and whites.

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Why is it important?

The educational divide in mortality, which was large prior to the COVID pandemic, is likely to widen as a result of coronavirus disease 2019, which places individuals without a college degree at greater risk.


Class, as measured by education, has displaced race as the more important divide in US longevity.

Anne Case
Princeton University

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This page is a summary of: Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2024777118.
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