The Health Value of the GED: Testing the Role of Noncognitive Skills, Health Behaviors, and Labor-Market Factors

Anna Zajacova, University of Wyoming
Jennifer Karas Montez, Case Western Reserve University

Half a million Americans earn the General Educational Development (GED) every year. The GED certification is intended to be equivalent to a high school (HS) diploma; however, econometricians have long known that GED recipients are disadvantaged relative to HS graduates in numerous domains. Recently, several studies have turned attention to another domain, adult health, and uncovered a large health disadvantage of GED recipients. This project aims to explain the health disadvantage, focusing on three groups of factors known to differ between GED recipients and HS diploma holders: non-cognitive skills, health behaviors, and labor-market outcomes. We use the NLSY79 (N=3,869) data on respondents from adolescence to age 40 when they were administered a battery of health questions. Structural equation models will be used to examine the joint direct and indirect effects of the three explanatory factors on multiple health indicators. Preliminary results indicate the hypothesized factors explain the GED-HS health gap.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 46: Life Course Approaches to Health and Mortality