Elite College Degree and Mental Health in Mid- and Retirement-Age

Sze Liu, Harvard University
Ichiro Kawachi, Harvard University
Maria Glymour, University of California, San Francisco and Harvard University

This study examines the effect of having a degree from an elite college with a 2-step analysis technique: (1) coarsened exact matching (CEM) to create analytical weights; and (2) weighted linear regression on the matched datasets including continuous measures of parental income and HS rank. Analysis was stratified by parental income. Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), we matched for gender, 1957 residence, mother’s education, father’s occupation, HS type, HS college preparatory class, semesters of HS math (median split), IQ, and quartiles of HS rank. Our outcomes were general health status (SF-12MCS and SF-12PCS) and depression symptoms (CESD scores). Elite college was determined by Barron’s rating of college selectivity. Among respondents with high parental income, elite college degree-holders had lower CESD and higher SF-12 MCS and PCS, indicating less depressive symptoms in mid- and retirement-age and better physical and mental health at retirement-age. No statistically significant differences were noted among respondents with low parental income.

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Presented in Session 203: Education and Health Inequalities