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Public Health


Recent studies suggest the importance of examining cumulative risk or advantage as potential predictors of health over the life course. Researchers investigating the cumulative health effects of education, however, have mainly conceptualized education in years or degrees, often disregarding educational quality and access to educational opportunities that may place individuals on divergent academic trajectories. We investigate whether educational advantages in youth are associated with an individual's health trajectory. We develop a novel index of educational advantage and employ random-intercept modeling using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We find a widening health disparity in adulthood between respondents with greater and those with fewer educational advantages in youth. Further, among respondents with few educational advantages, blacks experience a greater health burden as they age compared to whites and Hispanics. These results suggest that differential access to educational advantages during youth may contribute to persisting health disparities in adulthood.

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