How Do Rising Educational Levels Affect Individual Lifespan Variation? Estonia and Lithuania Examined over the 1990s
Alyson A. van Raalte, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Anton Kunst, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam
Johan P. Mackenbach, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam
In a previous study we showed how individual level lifespan variation could be decomposed into the sum of between-group inequalities and within-group variation. Here we extended this work by decomposing time trends in lifespan variation to include direct and compositional changes on the between- and within-group components. We applied these methods to Estonia and Lithuania over the 1990s, countries that experienced both widening educational inequalities in mortality and upward shifts in the educational composition. We found that in Estonia, the increased lifespan variation owed to both higher between- and within-group components, albeit tempered by the upward shift in education. In Lithuania, lifespan variation declined during the 1990s. This was entirely due to compositional changes, as the subgroups themselves experienced both widening differences in average lifespan and increases in the spread around that average. Such decompositions improve our understanding of the determinants of mortality, and their impact on lifespan variation.