Reassessing the Shape of the Relationship between Education and Health

Brian Goesling, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Many studies have documented a strong correlation between education and adult health, but the nature of the basic shape of this relationship remains unclear. Drawing on data from a large, nationally-representative survey of the non-institutionalized U.S. population, this paper shows that the relationship between education and several common measures of adult health is usually nonlinear, with the strength of the relationship weakening at progressively higher education levels. An exception is the relationship between education and self-reported health, which is linear across all levels of schooling. The results are important in part to show researchers how to best measure the effects of education in statistical analyses, but also to further knowledge of the pathways or mechanisms through which education might lead to better health.

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Presented in Session 164: Measurement Issues in Health and Mortality