The historical development of statistics on life expectancy by level of education at Statistics Sweden is presented, including a number of methodological issues and education-specific trends in life expectancy.

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In the most recent period, 2012–2017, the age-pattern of mortality change for each educational group and its contribution to life expectancy change is a first step in understanding how differences between educational groups evolve. Differences in life expectancy by level of education used to be larger among men than among women, but this is no longer the case in Sweden. On the other hand, there is substantial social and regional variation in the gap of life expectancy between different educational groups. A general development seems to be a widening of the gap, from age 30 as well as from age 65. Newly published statistics on healthy life years by level of education and unpublished data on life expectancy by a more detailed classification of education will also be presented. Findings from multivariate modelling suggest that variation in mortality by level of education is still observed when a number of other social factors with a well-known relationship with mortality is taken into account, such as income and marital status. A theoretical framework for understanding the gap in adult mortality by level of education is discussed.

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