Researchers have found a disturbing trend while examining life expectancy in the United States, as the least educated white Americans have actually seen a massive drop in number of years that they live. The most shocking decline was in white women without a high school diploma, who "lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, an almost unheard of decline. For example, one of the biggest life expectancy declines ever seen was among Russian men who lost an average of seven years after the fall of the Soviet Union, according to The New York Times.
The new study, by the University of Illinois at Chicago, specifically compared groups by their level of education, as the amount of schooling one has tends to predict other health issues as well. Less educated people are more likely to smoke, be obese, abuse drugs, and (most importantly) lack health insurance. The gap between life expectancy for white women with a college degree and those without a high school diploma is more than 10 years. For men, it's 13 years.
Researchers looking for a silver lining point out that the number of Americans without a high school diploma has dropped dramatically since 1990, both shrinking the size of that pool and also making it more likely that they will be disadvantaged in other ways. But the doesn't change that fact that the result are still alarming. All other racial groups at the same level of education have seen steady increases in life expectancy over the last two decades, though overall black men and women still do not live as long as whites.