Education, Social Status, and Health

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 2003 - Social Science - 242 pages
Education forms a unique dimension of social status, with qualities that make it especially important to health. It influences health in ways that are varied, present at all stages of adult life, cumulative, self-amplifying, and uniformly positive. Educational attainment marks social status at the beginning of adulthood, functioning as the main bridge between the status of one generation and the next, and also as the main avenue of upward mobility. It precedes the other acquired social statuses and substantially influences them, including occupational status, earnings, and personal and household income and wealth. Education creates desirable outcomes because it trains individuals to acquire, evaluate, and use information. It teaches individuals to tap the power of knowledge. Education develops the learned effectiveness that enables self-direction toward any and all values sought, including health.

For decades American health sciences has acted as if social status had little bearing on health. The ascendance of clinical medicine within a culture of individualism probably accounts for that omission. But research on chronic diseases over the last half of the twentieth century forced science to think differently about the causes of disease. Despite the institutional and cultural forces focusing medical research on distinctive proximate causes of specific diseases, researchers were forced to look over their shoulders, back toward more distant causes of many diseases. Some fully turned their orientation toward the social status of health, looking for the origins of that cascade of disease and disability flowing daily through clinics.

Why is it that people with higher socioeconomic status have better health than lower status individuals? The authors, who are well recognized for their strength in survey research on a broad national scale, draw on findings and ideas from many sciences, including demography, economics, social psychology, and the health sciences. People who are well educated feel in control of their lives, which encourages and enables a healthy lifestyle. In addition, learned effectiveness, a practical end of that education, enables them to find work that is autonomous and creative, thereby promoting good health.

John Mirowsky and Catherine E. Ross are professors in both the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.



"Mirowsky and Ross have done the population health community a splendid service by presenting a compelling and complex story for the relationship between social status and health and identifying many important contentious issues for future theoretical debate and empirical exploration. I highly recommend [Education, Social Status, and Health] to all health researchers interested in the social and economic determinants of health and well-being." -Gerry Veenstra, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

 

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Contents

A Rediscovery
1
Chapter Previews
6
Education As Learned Effectiveness
25
Education Learned Effectiveness and Health
26
Education and Socioeconomic Status
28
Education as a Root Cause of Good Health
30
The Association between Education and Health
32
Measuring Health
34
Decline Slowed or Only Delayed?
158
Educations Cumulative Advantage
168
Specious Views of Education
170
Education as Credential
171
Education as Reproducer of Inequality
174
Education as False Satisfier
182
Education as Spurious Correlate
185
Education Inequality and Health
193

Educations Correlation with Health Measures
35
Education Personal Control Lifestyle and Health
50
Education and Human Capital
51
Designing a Healthy Lifestyle
52
The Sense of Control Links Education to Healthy Lifestyle
60
Education Socioeconomic Status and Health
71
Economic Resources
72
Productive Activities
98
Education Socioeconomic Status and Health
124
Education Interpersonal Relationships and Health
126
Marriage and Health
129
Age and Cumulative Advantage
140
Accumulating Effects
141
Amplifying Effects
146
The Solution Not the Problem
195
Conclusion SelfDirection Toward Health
197
Learned Effectiveness Tops Access to Lucrative Positions
198
Education Has Pervasive Cumulative SelfAmplifying Benefits
200
Structural Amplification Concentrates Problems
201
Resource Accumulation and Substitution Imply Structural Amplification
203
No One Loses When Someone Gains Control
204
The Answer
206
Data and Measures
207
Illinois Statewide Survey
213
References
215
Index
235
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