Testing for changes in the SES-mortality gradient when the distribution of education changes too
We develop a flexible test for changes in the SES-mortality gradient over time that accounts for how education, commonly used as the primary marker of SES, is distributed in the population. We implement the test for the period between 1984 and 2006 using microdata from the Census, CPS, and NHIS linked to death records. Using our flexible test, we find that the evidence for a change in the education-mortality gradient is not as strong and universal as previous research has suggested. Our results indicate that the gradient increased for females during this time period, but we cannot rule out that the gradient among males has not changed. Informally, the results suggest that the changes for females are mainly driven by the bottom of the education distribution.