If you are planning your financial future or thinking about long-term care insurance, you want to know how long you are likely to live and how long you are likely to be disabled. For those important measures the estimates from the CDC, the Census Bureau, and your insurer are poor guides…because they do not consider effects of your education.
Sarah Laditka and I have studied this issue extensively using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Here is our latest publication on this topic:
Laditka, J.N., and S.B. Laditka. (In Press). Associations of Educational Attainment with Disability and Life Expectancy by Race and Gender in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Journal of Aging and Health.
This study estimates associations of education with life expectancy and the percentage of remaining life from age 40 with disability.
We studied about 9,000 people from throughout the United States (94,246 person years), measuring five education levels. We estimated probabilities of disability and death with multinomial logistic Markov models, and used microsimulations beginning at age 40, controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, age, and disability.
In results, with college education, African American and white women, and African American and white men, respectively, lived 46.6%, 44.0%, 55.2%, and 50.4% more years from age 40 than those educated at less than the 9th grade (p<0.001). Corresponding percentages of life with disability were lower with high education, by 37.9%, 38.9%, 41.0%, and 39.9% (p<0.001).
We found that, on average, people with low education have shorter lives with much more disability. That may be consistent with your expectations. However, little recent research has actually demonstrated this using nationally representative data. We think this is a useful contribution to knowledge.