Friday, August 10, 2012
You know we can't talk about anything that matters
Not if we're running for office, for Pete's sake. But maybe after the election we can have a little conversation about this: even as life expectancy in the U.S. increases, disparities by race and education won't go away. In fact, disparities related to education may have gotten worse. White women with less than 12 years of education in 2008 had lower life expectancy at birth than they did in 1990 -- by more than 5 years. Disparities between white and black Americans, adjusting for education, declined slightly but remain large.
Exactly how education drives life expectancy is not fully understood; yes, people with less formal education are more likely to smoke, be obese, etc. But the disparities remain even after adjusting for those identifiable factors.
Not everybody wants to go to college, or should. But everybody deserves a chance at meaningful work that will provide them with a decent standard of living; and education that will provide them with strong basic skills to navigate through life, including health literacy. We're literally killing people by inequality.