Educational attainment is one of the strongest social determinants of health among U.S. adults; however, recent studies show it is a stronger predictor in some areas of the country than others. This study takes a historical and life course approach to understanding why educational disparities in health vary across the country. It asks: for which birth cohorts do the disparities vary and which historical and contemporary circumstances explain the variation? Using data on adults aged 50 and older in the 1998-2014 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, we examine how educational disparities in CVD, disability, and mortality vary across nine Census divisions. We assess the extent to which the variation is anchored in childhood circumstances that can influence both educational attainment and adult health (e.g., childhood health; compulsory schooling laws) as well as adult circumstances that shape the importance of education for health (e.g., employment opportunities; minimum wage laws).
Presented in Session 138. Life Course, Population Health, and Mortality