The relationship between adult mortality and educational attainment in Argentina



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The study of the relationship between socioeconomic characteristics and mortality patterns has been a traditional research focus in demography, representing one of the core areas of the discipline. In Latin America, there is an important set of studies that show a significant inverse relationship between socioeconomic status and mortality rates. However, mainly due to limitations in the available data, we know very little about the specific relation between educational attainment and adult mortality. This inverse relationship between educational attainment and mortality rates provides just the tip of the iceberg for a large set of questions: How wide are educational differences in overall adult mortality in Argentina? Does the association between educational attainment and adult mortality vary by age group, gender and region? Are there unique adult mortality patterns by education among specific causes of death? Has the adult mortality differential by education attainment widened or narrowed as education attainment increased between 1991 and 2010? The main objective of this research was to describe and analyze the relationship between educational attainment and adult mortality patterns during the 1991-2010 period in Argentina. The data used in this study come from the Argentinian Mortality Files for the period 1991-2010 and from the 1991, 2001 and 2010 Argentinian Censuses. Results show a clear gradient in the specific mortality rates according to educational groups, for both sexes and for all age groups. The existence and direction of this relationship was as expected; however, the magnitude of educational differences was much higher than what has been found in other countries. The data also exhibited a clear declining trend in mortality inequalities by education as age increased. Educational differences in overall adult mortality did not display an increasing pattern over time. The year 2001, which was characterized by serious economic and social crisis in the country, displayed the highest educational inequalities in mortality in comparison to either 1991 or 2010. The findings of this dissertation are relevant to policy questions about health care and social inequalities in death.