New research indicates that the lifespan of poor, uneducated white people living in the United States has shrunk dramatically.
While researchers have long known that the most educated Americans tend to live longer than the less educated, this new research has a new, especially troubling twist: It shows that poor people's lives are actually getting shorter. The life expectancy of America's least educated whites has fallen by four years since 1990.
The most dramatic declines were for white women without a high school diploma. That group lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008.
“We’re used to looking at groups and complaining that their mortality rates haven’t improved fast enough, but to actually go backward is deeply troubling,” John G. Haaga, a population expert, told The New York Times.
The Human Mortality Database recently ranked 37 high-income nations, and found that, in 2010, American women had shorter lives than every other nation ranked.
Meanwhile, this latest research shows that a lack of education appears to be unhealthy for all demographics. The last time that life expectancy fell by this much, it was because of the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, according to Smithsonian.
"The message for policy makers is clear: implement educational enhancements at young, middle, and older ages for people of all races, to reduce the large gap in health and longevity that persists today," the study's authors concluded.