The Education Gradient in Old Age Disability

David M. Cutler and Adriana Lleras-Muney

in Research Findings in the Economics of Aging

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226903064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226903088 | DOI:
The Education Gradient in Old Age Disability

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There are many theories about the link between education and disability, ranging from childhood conditions that affect education and disability, occupational differences in the working years, differential health. Three factors have particularly strong influences on the education gradient in disability. The first is health behaviors. Better, educated people are significantly less likely to smoke than are less educated people; they are also less obese. About one-third of the education gradient in disability is found to be associated with differential health behaviors. Another third is explained by differences in lifetime occupation. People are broken down by hard work. Finally, differential rates of medical conditions explain another fifth of the education gradient in disability. Stroke, heart disease, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis are highly related to disability. Less educated people are more likely to have suffered from these conditions, partly as a result of their greater propensity to smoke and to be obese.

Keywords: old age; education; health behavior; smoking; obesity

Chapter.  7106 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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