Impact of early life health on educational attainment: Racial/ethnic and SES differentials


Hussey, Jon M.; Richardson, Liana J.; & Sastry, Narayan (2010). Impact of early life health on educational attainment: Racial/ethnic and SES differentials. 2010 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and health is one of the most widely studied relationships in the social and health sciences. While support for the social causation hypothesis (i.e., that SES affects subsequent health) is consistently found, evidence for the social selection hypothesis (i.e., that health affects subsequent SES) is mixed. The combination of these findings has led to the dominant assumption that selection mechanisms have a minor influence on relationships between SES and health. However, a growing number of studies challenge this assumption. Our research seeks to extend these studies in a number of important ways. Drawing on multiple waves of Add Health data, we examine the impact of early life health on educational attainment. Specifically, we model the relationship between multiple indicators of adolescent physical and mental health (including self-rated health, depressive symptoms, BMI, and drug use) and three measures of educational attainment: high school completion, college enrollment, and college completion. We also evaluate whether these associations differ by sex, race/ethnicity, and parental SES. In all analyses, we adjust for potential confounders and, when appropriate, we explicitly account for errors in measured variables.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2010 Add Health Users Conference


Hussey, Jon M.
Richardson, Liana J.
Sastry, Narayan

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID