Anomalies in the relationship between education and health

Several years ago, I discovered unexpected anomalies in the education-health gradient for two groups of US adults: recipients of the GED diploma and sub-baccalaureate adults — those with some college but no bachelor’s degree. The first group, GED recipients, are assumed to be equivalent to regular high school graduates and thus to have equivalent health. Instead, however, GED recipients have substantially worse health than high school graduates! In fact, their health is more comparable to the health of high school dropouts.

The second group, adults with “some college,” is assumed to have better health than HS graduates as a function of their additional education. However, the data I examined did not offer clear support to these expectations. Instead, they showed that college dropouts often have no better health compared with high school graduates.

The first results, which documented the anomalies, were published in Social Science Quarterly, American Journal of Public Health, and Social Science and Medicine.  I have since focused on understanding the why these anomalies exist.

I am currently working on additional studies using the NLSY97 and Add Health data, aiming to understand these anomalies. I will post more information as we firm up our findings. I welcome your emails if you have questions or want to exchange ideas about this topic.

More to follow in early 2019.