Schooling and the Production of Health Inequality

Vida Maralani, University of Pennsylvania

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, I examine the mechanisms that link educational attainment and health. The transition from adolescence to adulthood offers a unique opportunity to see health behaviors and educational trajectories as they evolve, and before other complicating factors intervene in adult health. Recent research documents that many health behaviors such as smoking and drinking that are related to the major causes of death and to disparities by sex and race emerge in young adulthood. I examine how specific components of the schooling process such as coursework, school atmosphere, school transitions, and social networks as well as factors theorized to be associated with schooling, such as, future orientation and soft skills relate to health behaviors in early adulthood. I also control for confounding factors such as family background, early health status, and cognitive skills, which predict both school progress and health choices.

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Presented in Session 144: Socioeconomic Status and Health: Causation and Selection