Expected or completed? Comparing two measures of education and their relationship with social inequalities in health among young adults
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofSocial Indicators Research ; vol. 135, no 2, p. 549–562
Background. Similarly to other age groups, there are significant social inequalities in health among young adults (YA). Education is thought to be the most appropriate indicator of YA socioeconomic status (SES), yet it is often in progress at that age and may not be representative of future achievement. Therefore, scholars have explored YA ‘expected’ education as a proxy of SES. However, no study has examined how it compares to the more common SES indicator, ‘completed’ education. Methods. Using data from 1,457 YA surveyed twice over a two year period, we describe associations between participants’ completed and expected education at baseline and completed education at followup. We then compare associations between these two measures and three health outcomes – smoking status, self-rated mental health, and participation in physical activity and sports – at baseline and follow-up using regression models. Results. At baseline, half of the participants were imputed a higher ‘expected’ level than that ‘completed’ at that time. In regression models, ‘expected’ and ‘completed’ education were strongly associated with all outcomes and performed slightly differently in terms of effect size, statistical significance, and model fit. Conclusions. ‘Expected’ education offers a good approximation of future achievement. More importantly, ‘expected’ and ‘completed’ education variables can be conceptualized as complementary indicators associated with inequalities in health in YA. Using both may help better understand social inequalities in health in YA.
Gagne, T., Ghenadenik, A., Shareck, M., & Frohlich, K.L. (2016). Expected or completed? Comparing two measures of educational attainment and their influence on the study of social inequalities in health among young adults. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/s11205-016-1517-9