NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 9, 2007

The level of education of one's parents is a key predictor of adult health status among members of the white and African-American communities, according to a study by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).


  • Participants whose parents had less than an eighth-grade education were significantly more likely to have poor or fair health in adulthood than participants whose parents had more education.
  • The effect of parental education was statistically significant in white and African-American participants.
  • The effect of parents' education level was observed but much weaker in Latino participants.

"It's long been observed that lower socioeconomic status in childhood predicts poor health in adulthood, but this is the first study to isolate parents' level of education as a critical predictive factor," says lead author Dr. Sandra Moody-Ayers, a staff physician and geriatrician at SFVAMC and an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

"This goes a long way toward explaining the long-observed disparity in health outcomes between whites and non-whites in America," says Moody-Ayers.  "Lifelong economic hardship, such as occurs disproportionately among African-Americans, has a cumulative effect-- at least until the health problems commonly associated with old age begin to dominate."

Source: "Poor Health In Adulthood Linked With Parents' Education Level,", October 9, 2007.

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