Unemployment and Smoking Are Factors in Higher Mortality Rates for Low-Educated Women

A new study published in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior finds that higher rates of smoking and unemployment are two factors that are associated with higher death rates for White women with low levels of education compared to other White women.

The study found that for the years 1997 to 2001 the odds of dying for women without a high school diploma were 37 percent higher than for women of the same age who had completed high school or had a college education. For the 2002 to 2006 period, lower educated women were 66 percent more likely to die than women of the same age who had a higher level of education.

The research used data on 47,000 White women ages 45 to 84. Factors such as poverty status, obesity, marital status, and alcohol consumption were shown to have no impact on death rates of similarly aged women.

hss-cohort9-jennifer-montezThe lead author of the study is Jennifer Karas Montez, a researcher at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Dr. Montez holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in statistics from Purdue University. She holds a second master’s degree in sociology from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas as Austin.

The research paper, “Explaining the Widening Education Gap in Mortality Among U.S. White Women,” may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudyWomen's Studies


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