Other Paper

Inequalities in longevity by education in OECD countries: insights from new OECD estimates

Murtin, F., Mackenbach, J. P., Jasilionis, D., d’Ercole, M. M.

OECD statistics working papers 2017:2, 82 pages (2017).
Paris, OECD Publishing


Keywords: OECD countries, education, life expectancy


This paper assesses inequality in longevity across education and gender groups in 23 OECD countries around 2011. Data on mortality rates by age, gender, educationals attainment and for, 17 countries, cause of death, were collected from national sources, with similar treatment applied to all countries in order to derive comparable measures of longevity at age 25 and 65 by gender and education. These estimates show that, on average, the gap in life expectancy between high and low-educationed people is 8 years for men and 5 years for women at age 25 years, and 3.5 years for men and 2.5 years for women at age 65. Other measures of inequalities in longevity by education (such as country averages of age-standardised mortality rates and the slope index of inequality) do not significantly change the inequality ranking of countries relative to one based on life expectancy measures. While significant, differences in longevity between groups with low and high educational attainment account, on average, for around 10% of overall differences in ages of death. Cardio-vascular diseases are the first cause of death for all gender and education groups after age 65 years, and the first cause of mortality inequality between the high and low-education elderly.