A “Reverse” Gradient? Educational Attainment and Later-Life Comorbidity in China: An Exploration for Potential Mechanisms

Zhangjun Zhou , Pennsylvania State University

The education gradient in late-life health is well documented in developed countries, while findings are less consistent in developing contexts. Using nationally representative data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011), this study examines the educational effect in risks of late-life chronic morbidity among cohorts aged 45+ in China (N=17,239). Results suggest for a “reverse” educational gradient. Compared to those with secondary education or more, those with primary education or less have an average of 16% lower odds of having any chronic disease, and 21% lower odds of comorbidity at later-life. Such educational effect is larger among older cohorts, and is not explained by late-life socioeconomic status, self-rated health, health behaviors/lifestyles, or healthcare utilization. In contrast, the less educated are at higher risks of functional limitation at later-life. Results have important implications for understanding the socioeconomic disparities in late-life health in a context undergoing transitions.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 138. Life Course, Population Health, and Mortality