|Quantifying the contribution of work characteristics to educational disparities in health-induced work limitations.
|Year of Publication
|Abrams, LR, Berkman, LF
|J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
|2023 Aug 17
OBJECTIVES: To quantify how poor health and inhospitable working conditions each contribute to educational disparities in work disability in mid-life and old age.
METHODS: We used the Health and Retirement Study (2006-2016) to examine educational disparities in reporting "any impairment or health problem that limits the kind or amount of paid work" in ages 51-80.
RESULTS: We found disparities to be profound and persistent over time. Blinder-Oaxaca three-fold decomposition revealed that distributions of income and employer insurance made the largest contribution to explaining different rates of work limitations among respondents with versus without high school degrees, followed by work characteristics (physical job demands, insufficient hours) and health conditions (diabetes, lung disease). Comparing respondents with high school versus college degrees, distributions of health conditions mattered most (high blood pressure, lung disease, heart disease, stroke), followed by health behaviors (smoking, drinking). Health-induced work limitations are often used as a measure of health, but we found that work characteristics explained 57% of the disadvantage of those without a high school degree and 44% of the disadvantage of high school compared to college graduates.
DISCUSSION: Therefore, work environments appear to play an important role in educational disparities in mid-to-late-life disability.