Early-Life Characteristics and Emergent Educational Disparities in Smoking

Matthew Andersson, Yale University
Vida Maralani, Yale University

Educational inequalities in adult health outcomes are well-established, but it remains unclear when and how these disparities emerge across the life course. For example, disparities in smoking by the education that individuals go on to complete are present well before that education is in fact completed. Our study aims to explain this puzzle by following individuals as they age. We use the 1970 British Cohort Study to examine the links between early life characteristics (cognitive, non-cognitive, psychosocial, socioeconomic, and health-related) and emergent disparities in smoking. We examine whether characteristics from childhood explain differences in smoking at ages 16 and 26 by the education respondents eventually obtain. Thus, we pinpoint how and when educational health disparities actually emerge. Our analyses identify factors that might explain how educational and health trajectories become intertwined across the life course in ways that explain educational disparities in health outcomes.

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Presented in Session 203: Education and Health Inequalities