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Pathways between health, education and income in adolescence and adulthood
  1. Emily J Callander
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emily Callander, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Discipline of Tropical Health and Medicine, Building 41, Douglas Campus, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia; emily.callander{at}jcu.edu.au

Abstract

Objective To quantify the impact of household income, and physical and mental health in adolescence on education attainment, household income and health status in adulthood.

Design Path analysis and regression models using waves 1–12 of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.

Participants Individuals aged 17 or 18 in 2001, 52% were males (n=655) and 48% were female (52%). Of those participating in wave 1, five did not respond in wave 12.

Main outcome measures Education attainment, household income, physical and mental health at age 29/30.

Results For females, physical health at age 17/18 was significantly related to level of education attainment at age 29/30 (standardised total effect 0.290, p<0.001), with this influence being greater in magnitude than that of household income at age 17/18 on level of education attainment at age 29/30 (standardised total effect 0.159, p=0.022). Females' physical health at age 17/18 was also significantly related to household income at age 29/30 (standardised total effect 0.09, p=0.018). Both adjusted for initial household income at age 17/18. For males, the total standardised total effect of physical health at age 17/18 had a greater impact than household income at age 17/18 on education attainment at age 29/30 (0.347, p<0.001 for physical health and 0.276, p<0.001 for household income). The OR of achieving a year 12 or higher level of education attainment was 4.72 (95% CI 1.43 to 15.58, p=0.0110) for females with good physical health at age 17/18 and 5.05 (95% CI 1.78 to 14.36, p=0.0024) for males, compared with those with poor physical health at age 17/18.

Conclusions As physical health in adolescence appears to have a stronger influence on education attainment in adulthood than household income, equity strategies for education attainment should also target those with poor health.

  • Adolescent Health
  • Costing
  • Health Economics

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