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(Hummer & Lariscy, 2011) and used nationally-representative

American data to search for the best functional form of education-

mortality association. Their results suggested the best fitted

functional form is that the educational gradient of mortality was

much steeper after an individual received a high school diploma, but

rather flat before attaining a high school diploma with a drop in

mortality risk upon completing 12 years of schooling (Montez et al.,

2012). However, their results did not disprove the heterogeneity of

the education-mortality association after individuals have attained at

least a high school diploma or even a college/graduate degree. In fact,

a recent study from Lawrence and her colleagues has shown the

heterogeneity of significant education-mortality association for

people with associate, bachelor’s, or more advanced degrees

(Lawrence, Rogers, & Zajacova, 2016). This suggests that using the

trichotomized educational attainment measure showing step-change

reduction in mortality risk at the 12-years-of-education level

(Montez et al., 2012) may overlook the heterogeneity and

importance of education-mortality association for postsecondary

schooling in the United States (Lawrence et al., 2016). Therefore,

this study adopts the framework from Brown et al. (2012) as the

basis upon which to investigate the association between educational

attainment and mortality compression using mode measure as the

central tendency measure of death ages at the aggregate level and

estimating the variation of modal age of death. However, the study

goes beyond their trichotomized educational attainment measure to

examine whether advanced education has become increasingly

important in determining the life chances of individuals in the

United States.

II. Methods

A. Data

The data is drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS),

a biennial survey spanning the years 1992 to 2012, primarily