The Significance of Education for Rectangularization of the Survival Curve in the United States

Dustin C. Brown, University of Texas at Austin
Jennifer Karas Montez, University of Texas at Austin
Mira M. Hidajat, Pennsylvania State University

Studies of mortality compression at older ages often assume that compression is linked to socioeconomic development either over time or between nations. We extend this logic and argue that relative differentials in the degree of rectangularization will exist between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged sub-populations within a single period and national context. In this paper, we empirically assess the degree to which the survival curves in the United States are more or less rectangular across major educational groups. Our analyses are based on data from two nationally representative datasets and we draw on the methodological approach recently introduced by Cheung, et al. (2005) to document rectangularization. Our results show higher modal ages of death and a greater degree of compression around the modal age of death among groups with higher levels of education. As hypothesized, the results suggest that rectangularization is more evident among groups with higher levels of education.

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Presented in Poster Session 7