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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

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

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Ross & Ryan Masters & Robert Hummer, 2012. "Education and the Gender Gaps in Health and Mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(4), pages 1157-1183, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:1157-1183
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0130-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.
    2. Christopher J. Holmes & Anna Zajacova, 2014. "Education as “the Great Equalizer”: Health Benefits for Black and White Adults," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1064-1085, December.
    3. 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;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(6), pages 893-917, December.
    4. Masters, Ryan K. & Link, Bruce G. & Phelan, Jo C., 2015. "Trends in education gradients of ‘preventable’ mortality: A test of fundamental cause theory," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 19-28.
    5. Hayward, Mark D. & Hummer, Robert A. & Sasson, Isaac, 2015. "Trends and group differences in the association between educational attainment and U.S. adult mortality: Implications for understanding education's causal influence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 8-18.
    6. 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;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 33(1), pages 127-151, February.
    7. van Ooijen, R. & Alessi, R. & Knoef, M., 2015. "Health status over the life cycle," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/21, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    8. Anna Zajacova & Katrina Walsemann & Jennifer Dowd, 2015. "The Long Arm of Adolescent Health Among Men and Women: Does Attained Status Explain Its Association with Mid-Adulthood Health?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 34(1), pages 19-48, February.
    9. Zhang, Hao & Bago d’Uva, Teresa & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2015. "The gender health gap in China: A decomposition analysis," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 13-26.
    10. Jennifer Karas Montez & Kaitlyn Barnes, 2016. "The Benefits of Educational Attainment for U.S. Adult Mortality: Are they Contingent on the Broader Environment?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(1), pages 73-100, February.
    11. 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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    Keywords

    Education; Gender; Self-rated health; Mortality;

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