Challenging the Education Gradient of Health: The Case of the GED Recipients

Hyun Sik Kim, Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs

Large body of health literature has extensively reported the linearly aligned education gradient supporting thick theoretical building on the education gradient that has become one of few established facts. In this proposal, I attempt to describe apparently contradictory empirical observations to the gradient argument: the recipients of the General Educational Development (GED) certificate. The NHIS data show that GED recipients enjoyed no advantage in the global health status measured by self-reported health over high school dropouts, which do not appear support the widely accepted education gradient. Exploratory analysis using the Add Health also indicated that moderate benefits GED recipients reported in comparison with high school dropouts may be entirely attributable to pre-existing differences in school years. I suggested several competing hypotheses for these observations and plans for more rigorous analyses are outlined.

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Presented in Session 188: Education and Health Behaviors