Origins and Destinations, but How Much and When? Age-Graded Disparities in Health Behaviors by Parental and Own Education Levels

Matthew Andersson , Baylor University
Vida Maralani, Cornell University
Renae Wilkinson

Educational inequalities in health behaviors are well-known, but the timing by and extent to which ascribed versus achieved statuses inform such inequalities are not well-understood. This important process of “switch off” between parental (ascribed, “origin”) factors and personally attained (achieved, “destination”) factors is embedded in educational disparities in health behaviors. This process unfolds across the life course and is intertwined with other endogenous mechanisms involving economic, cognitive, psychological and social resources across adolescence and adulthood. Drawing on the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent and Adult Health, we analyze how age-graded disparities in health behaviors are associated with parental and own education (and their interactions) across the life course. We study these patterns with respect to smoking, obesity, drinking, and physical activity. Our preliminary results show important variability in which resources dominate which parts of the life course and how this differs by age and specific health behavior.

See extended abstract

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