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The increasing value of education to health

  • Goldman, Dana
  • Smith, James P.

This paper assesses how the relationship between health and educational attainment has changed over the last three decades. We examine trends in disease prevalence and self-reported health using the US National Health Interview Survey for five chronic conditions--arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and lung diseases. The sample is limited to non-Hispanic Whites ages 40-64 to focus on the value of education and not changing representation of minority populations. We find that health benefits associated with additional schooling rose over time by more than ten percentage points as measured by self-reported health status. This can be attributed to both a growing disparity by education in the probability of having major chronic diseases during middle age, and better health outcomes for those with each disease. The value of education in achieving better health has increased over the last 25 years; both in protecting against onset of disease and promoting better health outcomes amongst those with a disease. Besides better access to health insurance, the more educated increasingly adapted better health behaviors, particularly not smoking and engaging in vigorous excercise, and reaped the benefits of improving medical technology. Rising health disparities by education are an important social concern which may require targeted interventions.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
Issue (Month): 10 (May)
Pages: 1728-1737

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:10:p:1728-1737
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