Education Differences in the Maintenance of Smoking Cessation and Physical Activity

Rachel Margolis, University of Pennsylvania

Health risk behaviors are least common among the most educated in the United States. However, there is not clear evidence whether there are differences by educational attainment in the maintenance of healthy lifestyle changes, once initiated. I use nationally representative data for middle-aged and older Americans to document patterns in adherence to smoking cessation and physical activity from the time of a healthy change. Using discrete-time event history models, I test four correlates of adherence which could mediate the effect of education on the maintenance of healthy behaviors: health status, partnership, labor force participation, and wealth. The college educated remain more likely to be physically active than those with less education, even taking account of potentially mediating factors. However, education is not strongly associated with adherence to smoking cessation.

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Presented in Session 169: Health Behaviors, Health, and Mortality