Education, cumulative advantage, and health

  • Mirowsky J
  • Ross C
  • 28

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Abstract

Education's positive effect on health gets larger as people age. The large socioeconomic differences in health among older Americans mostly accrue earlier in adulthood on gradients set by educational attainment. Education develops abilities that help individuals gain control of their own lives, encouraging and enabling a healthy life. The health-related consequences of education cumulate on many levels, from the socioeconomic (including work and income) and behavioral (including health behaviors like exercising) to the physiological and intracellular. Some accumulations influence each other. In particular, a low sense of control over one's own life accelerates physical impairment, which in turn decreases the sense of control. That feedback progressively concentrates good physical functioning and a firm sense of personal control together in the better educated while concentrating physical impairment and a sense of powerlessness together in the less well educated, creating large differences in health in old age. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Authors

  • John Mirowsky

  • Catherine E. Ross

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