Health Lifestyles, Socioeconomic Status, and the Transition to Adulthood

Elizabeth Lawrence , University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Stefanie Mollborn, University of Colorado Boulder
Joshua Goode, University of Colorado Boulder
Fred C. Pampel, University of Colorado Boulder

Health lifestyles capture the routinized and collective set of health behaviors that serve as expressions of self-identity and as markers of socioeconomic status (SES). We argue that health lifestyles contribute importantly to health differences across SES and that life course changes reinforce and redirect health lifestyles in ways that exacerbate health inequalities. We sought to identify relationships between SES, adult roles, and health lifestyles across the transition to adulthood. We used U.S. data from Add Health, which offers information from adolescence (ages 15-17), early young adulthood (20-24), and late young adulthood (26-31). We found that adolescent health lifestyles and SES partially influence later health lifestyles but leave much room for change. Life course changes throughout young adulthood shaped individuals’ health lifestyles in late young adulthood. This study demonstrates the utility of an integrated model for the development of health disparities that considers both stability and change.

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 Presented in Session 15. Lifestyle, Behavior, and Population Health