Adult children with college education influence parents ’health in later life

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Write down the benefits of getting a college degree, and more than likely, all the items on the full list will relate to graduates: higher salaries, self-employment, and better access to health care, for example. All of these factors, supported by extensive research, help establish a hotline that connects higher education and health. Similar research suggests how parental education affects their children.

Now, two sociologists at the University at Buffalo have used a new wave of data from a survey launched in 1994 to further expand the geometry connection i which demonstrates another dimension of the intergenerational effects of completing . His findings, recently published in Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, suggest that the educational attainment of adult children has an impact on their own ‘mental i .

“Analyzing these data, we concluded that it was detrimental to parents’ self-reported health and depressive symptoms if none of their children graduated from college, ”says Christopher Dennison, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at UB’s College d ‘Arts and Sciences, and co-author of the paper with UB colleague Kristen Schultz Lee, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Sociology. “The negative result in parental mental health was, in fact, our strongest finding.”

Dennison and Lee have used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) in their previous research. Add Health is a nationally representative longitudinal study of more than 20,000 adolescents. It is the largest such survey. There was an initial wave of data on parents (ages 30 to 60) when the survey began and another wave of data was gathered from approximately 2,000 of these original participants (who now they are between the ages of 50 and 80) of 2015-17.

This last set of data is what has provided researchers with the opportunity to observe the intergenerational relationship between parents and children over time, while statistically balancing the factors that could influence the health of older parents.

“These results are particularly important in light of the growing educational inequalities in the United States in recent decades,” Lee says. “We know how it is it affects our own health; we know how parental education affects their children in many different ways; we now try to add this understanding by explaining how children’s education can have an impact on their parents.

“One thing I found especially interesting about these findings is that those parents who are less likely to have a child get a college degree () seem to benefit the most from a child who has one . “

Dennison and Lee speculate on a number of elements that may be driving this association, including anxiety, attendance, and lifestyle.

“Parents whose children have lower levels of education may spend more time caring for their children. This has negative implications for their mental health and their self-assessed health,” Lee says. “Unqualified children may need more help from their parents and in return are less able to help them if needed.

“Another possibility is that educated children can do a better job helping their parents live healthier by encouraging exercise and a healthy diet.”

What is clear is the evidence that points to how the benefits of a college degree are shown in the health of parents later in life.

“At this time when college studies are becoming increasingly important, we see how long-term investment in education is beneficial to the health of the adult child, but it also has benefits for their parents,” says Dennison.

And it is this idea of ​​an investment that speaks to how educational achievement reaches generations from a political perspective.

“Historically, there has been a debate about whether or not different generations are facing each other, and one generation draws resources from another older or younger generation,” Lee says. “But our findings point to the fundamentally related nature of the interests and needs of different generations.

“Investing in one generation, in this case, benefits another generation positively.”


The study shows that education is not enough to overcome inequality


More information:
Christopher R Dennison et al, Achieving Early Childhood Education and Parental Health in Middle and Later Life, Gerontology journals: series B (2021). DOI: 10.1093 / geronb / gbab109

Citation: Adult children with college education influence parents’ health in later life (2021, July 14) Retrieved July 14, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-adult-children- college-degrees-parents.html

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