The Evolution of the Schooling-Smoking Gradient

Donald Kenkel, Cornell University
Alan Mathios, Cornell University

We explore how the schooling-smoking gradient has evolved over time. Using data from 11 Gallup Surveys conducted between 1954 and 1999, we find that the schooling-smoking gradient first emerged in tandem with a schooling-information gradient. As early as 1957, a schooling-information gradient developed, with 62 percent of college graduates agreeing that smoking was a cause of lung cancer, compared to only 46 percent of those with less than a college degree. After the mid-1970s, the schooling-information gradient began to flatten but the schooling-smoking gradient did not. To further explore patterns of smoking behavior, we next econometrically analyze data on individual life-course smoking histories from retrospective information available in six cycles of the Tobacco Use Supplements to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS). With these data we estimate discrete-time hazard models of smoking initiation and cessation as functions of schooling, measures of the health information environment, and other control variables.

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Presented in Session 23: Explaining the SES-Health Gradient