Cohort Differences in Health: Does the Pattern Vary by Education?

Beth J. Soldo, University of Pennsylvania
John C. Henretta, University of Florida

In a recent paper, Soldo et al. (2007) find that the self-reported health of successive cohorts of 51-56 year olds has declined. The authors use cross-sections of successive cohorts of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) respondents who were first interviewed at these ages in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Over this period, they find declines in a number of dimensions of self-assessed health, even after adjusting for cohort differences in socioeconomic origins and childhood health, tobacco and alcohol use, region of residence, and other covariates. We extend this research using the same cohorts in the HRS data by examining whether the pattern of cohort change in health varies by education. We find that health declined across all education groups but the greatest decline occurred among those with least education. As a result, educational differences in the self-reported health of persons 51-56 are greater in 2004 than in 1994.

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Presented in Session 117: Health over the Life Course and across Generations