Education and Death Rates

Can Good Career Advice Save Lives?

global computer technology conceptRecently, two researchers disclosed that for the first time, the mortality rate for lower educated white males and females has increased, bucking the long established downward trend. Both researchers said they were shocked over this finding because the deaths were from suicide, drugs/opioids, alcohol-related liver disease and other substance abuse issues and not the usual culprits of heart disease and cancer.  You can listen to researchers discussing their findings at

This higher death rate was identified for individuals ages 45-54 – those who may be expected to be at the top of their career game. The researchers and commentators speculate that the reason for this involves anguish from impoverished work opportunities resulting from high unemployment and lower education attainment. Dr. Case, one of the study’s authors, stated that “Fewer economic opportunities, especially for those with less education, have led to more despair and worse health, and in turn more abuse of drugs and alcohol”.

In other studies, it has been determined that on average individuals with a high school education live a decade less compared with individuals who have competed college.

A number of years ago, I heard about the link between education level and death rate. The information came from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  I tracked down the data set and created the following charts.

White Females

Black Females

White Males

Black Males

While the data sets from NIH and those used by the researchers are different and the issues studied have a different focus, the link between education and death rates is evident. I have to wonder if better/more career information and career services might, at least to some extent, mitigate the obviously negative effect of lower educational attainment.


Death Rates Rising for Middle Aged White Americans, Study Finds

The Effect of Educational Attainment on Adult Mortality in the U.S. has several courses and webinars that offer career development practitioners information on helping people with career and educational decision making as well has job seeking. Among them are: Realistic Career Decision Making: It’s More Than Passion; Labor Market Information for Career, Workforce and Academic Advisers; Winning Strategies for the Mature Job Seeker; Occupational Information for the Career Adviser; Schlossberg’s Career Transition Theory with a Twist; Proven Social Media Strategies to Help Your Students and Clients Land a Job Faster; and others.


Wall, Janet_500x500Janet E. Wall, EdD, MCDP, CDFI, SMMS, NCDA Fellow, is a career development professional and e-learning advocate. She is committed to the continuing education of all career counselors, coaches and specialists by providing online courses and webinars through She was the developer of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program for the Department of Defense, and was recently named a Fellow of the National Career Development Association. She is co-author of the Ability Explorer published by JIST. Invite her to connect on LinkedIn at

One thought on “Education and Death Rates

  1. Janet – I heard about this report on National Public Radio, early in the morning as I was getting ready for work, and thought “I wonder why.” Thank you for sharing your research to make it clearer for me to understand such profound implications.

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