continue to grow in the future, some experts disagree. For example, Bowles, Gintis, and Osborne (2001) analyzed longitudinal studies that presented 65 different correlational estimates of the relationship between cognitive test scores and earnings over a 30-year period. The authors found no increase in the estimates over time, indicating that labor market demand for cognitive competencies had not grown. Based on responses to a new national survey of skills, technology, and management practices, Handel (2010) argues that, for most jobs in the U.S. economy, education and academic skill demands are low to moderate, noting that large numbers of workers report educational attainments that exceed the requirements of their jobs.
All efforts to predict future competency demands are, of necessity, based on past trends. For example, BLS has often been criticized for using past trends to project detailed occupational requirements and competency needs a decade into the future (National Research Council, 2000). Similarly, Levy and Murnane (2004) call for schools to teach complex communications skills and nonroutine problem solving based on the assumption that the trends identified by Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) will continue for decades.
IMPORTANCE TO HEALTH AND RELATIONSHIP SKILLS
Education, Competencies, and Health Outcomes
There is a long history of research on the associations between education and health. Researchers statistically analyze data from self-reports on health status, behavior, and challenges in terms of explanatory variables, including gender, race, age, education, and income. Based on these analyses, they construct a health gradient demonstrating the conditional relation between education and health status. The overwhelming finding is that general health status, specific health outcomes, and healthy behaviors are strongly and positively correlated with educational attainment.
Cutler and Lleras-Muney (2010a) summarized the literature in which educational attainment is linked both statistically and substantively to health outcomes and behaviors. They found higher levels of educational attainment were associated with an array of reductions in adverse health events and increases in healthy eating and exercise. For example, the age-adjusted mortality rate of high school dropouts was found to be about twice that of those with some college in the 25-64-year-old age group in 1999.
Although these findings are widely accepted, two important questions dominate the literature. The first is to what degree is this relation causal as opposed to the explanation that those with better health are more likely to succeed educationally? That is, to what degree is the coefficient or gradient for health by level of educational attainment biased upward by