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Education and Health among U.S. Working-Age Adults: A Detailed Portrait across the Full Educational Attainment Spectrum

Citation

Zajacova, Anna; Hummer, Robert A.; & Rogers, Richard G. (2012). Education and Health among U.S. Working-Age Adults: A Detailed Portrait across the Full Educational Attainment Spectrum. Biodemography and Social Biology, 58(1), 40-61.

Abstract

This article presents detailed estimates of relative and absolute health inequalities among U.S. working-age adults by educational attainment, including six postsecondary schooling levels. We also estimate the impact of several sets of mediating variables on the education-health gradient. Data from the 1997-2009 National Health Interview Survey (N=178,103) show remarkable health differentials. For example, high school graduates have 3.5 times the odds of reporting "worse" health than do adults with professional or doctoral degrees. The probability of fair or poor health in mid-adulthood is less than 5 percent for adults with the highest levels of education but over 20 percent for adults without a high school diploma. The probability of reporting excellent health in the mid-forties is below 25 percent among high school graduates but over 50 percent for those adults who have professional degrees. These health differences characterize all the demographic subgroups examined in this study. Our results show that economic indicators and health behaviors explain about 40 percent of the education-health relationship. In the United States, adults with the highest educational degrees enjoy a wide array of benefits, including much more favorable self-rated health, compared to their less-educated counterparts.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19485565.2012.666122

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2012

Journal Title

Biodemography and Social Biology

Author(s)

Zajacova, Anna
Hummer, Robert A.
Rogers, Richard G.