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Educational Inequalities in Health Behaviors at Midlife: Is There a Role for Early-life Cognition?

Clouston, SA; Richards, M; Cadar, D; Hofer, SM; (2015) Educational Inequalities in Health Behaviors at Midlife: Is There a Role for Early-life Cognition? Journal of Health and Social Behavior , 56 (3) pp. 323-340. 10.1177/0022146515594188.

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Abstract

Education is a fundamental cause of social inequalities in health because it influences the distribution of resources, including money, knowledge, power, prestige, and beneficial social connections, that can be used in situ to influence health. Recent studies have highlighted early-life cognition as commonly indicating the propensity for educational attainment and determining health and age of mortality. Health behaviors provide a plausible mechanism linking both education and cognition to later-life health and mortality. We examine the role of education and cognition in predicting smoking, heavy drinking, and physical inactivity at midlife using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (N = 10,317), National Survey of Health and Development (N = 5,362), and National Childhood Development Study (N = 16,782). Adolescent cognition was associated with education but was inconsistently associated with health behaviors. Education, however, was robustly associated with improved health behaviors after adjusting for cognition. Analyses highlight structural inequalities over individual capabilities when studying health behaviors.

Type: Article
Title: Educational Inequalities in Health Behaviors at Midlife: Is There a Role for Early-life Cognition?
Location: United States
DOI: 10.1177/0022146515594188
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022146515594188
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © American Sociological Association 2015.
Keywords: alcohol drinking, cognition, education, health behavior, life course analysis, physical exercise, smoking
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476605
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