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Education and the Gender Gaps in Health and Mortality

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  • Catherine Ross

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  • Ryan Masters
  • Robert Hummer
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    Abstract

    The positive associations between education and health and survival are well established, but whether the strength of these associations depends on gender is not. Is the beneficial influence of education on survival and on self-rated health conditioned by gender in the same way, in opposite ways, or not at all? Because women are otherwise disadvantaged in socioeconomic resources that are inputs to health, their health and survival may depend more on education than will men’s. To test this hypothesis, we use data from the National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files (NHIS-LMF). We find that education’s beneficial influence on feeling healthy and on survival are conditional on gender, but in opposite ways. Education has a larger effect on women’s self-rated health than on men’s, but a larger effect on men’s mortality. To further examine the mortality results, we examine specific causes of death. We find that the conditional effect is largest for deaths from lung cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, homicide, suicide, and accidents. Because women report worse health but men’s mortality is higher, education closes the gender gap in both health and mortality. Copyright Population Association of America 2012

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s13524-012-0130-z
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Demography.

    Volume (Year): 49 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 1157-1183

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:1157-1183

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    Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/13524

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    Related research

    Keywords: Education; Gender; Self-rated health; Mortality;

    References

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    1. Anne C. Case & Christina Paxson, 2004. "Sex Differences in Morbidity and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 10653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Arber, Sara & Ginn, Jay, 1993. "Gender and inequalities in health in later life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 33-46, January.
    3. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "Editorial: Human capital and human capability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 1959-1961, December.
    4. Jennifer Karas Montez & Mark D. Hayward & Dustin C. Brown & Robert A. Hummer, 2009. "Why Is the Educational Gradient of Mortality Steeper for Men?," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(5), pages 625-634.
    5. Ross, Catherine E. & Mirowsky, John, 2011. "The interaction of personal and parental education on health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(4), pages 591-599, February.
    6. Fred C. Pampel, 2002. "Cigarette Use and the Narrowing Sex Differential in Mortality," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(1), pages 77-104.
    7. Umberson, Debra, 1992. "Gender, marital status and the social control of health behavior," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 907-917, April.
    8. Catherine Ross & John Mirowsky, 1999. "Refining the association between education and health: The effects of quantity, credential, and selectivity," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 445-460, November.
    9. Benjamins, Maureen Reindl & Hummer, Robert A. & Eberstein, Isaac W. & Nam, Charles B., 2004. "Self-reported health and adult mortality risk: An analysis of cause-specific mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 1297-1306, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Dustin Brown & Robert Hummer & Mark Hayward, 2014. "The Importance of Spousal Education for the Self-Rated Health of Married Adults in the United States," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 127-151, February.
    2. Bethany Everett & David Rehkopf & Richard Rogers, 2013. "The Nonlinear Relationship Between Education and Mortality: An Examination of Cohort, Race/Ethnic, and Gender Differences," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 32(6), pages 893-917, December.
    3. Hill, Terrence D. & Needham, Belinda L., 2013. "Rethinking gender and mental health: A critical analysis of three propositions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 83-91.

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