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Parent’s later life health can be impacted by their child’s higher education: Research

There are several benefits of higher education that have been talked about by experts. Giving a new dimension to the issue two sociologists from University at Buffalo have conducted a survey. They have drawn some insightful conclusions.The research points out that a child’s higher education level is reflective of the parent’s mental and physical health in older ages.

The research is conducted by Christopher Dennison, PhD, assistant professor of sociology in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences, and a co-author of the paper with UB colleague Kristen Schultz Lee, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology. Their findings are published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.

The research points out clear evidence, on how the benefits of a college degree show up in the parents’ health later in life. “In this era when a college degree is of ever-growing importance, we see how the long-term investment in education is advantageous to the adult child’s health, but also has benefits down the road for their parents too,” said Dennison.

While we are aware of the effects of how one’s education impacts one’s health and we also know how a parent’s education changes a child’s health and growth, with this research in place, we can now understand how a child’s higher education has a potential impact on a parent’s health. The study will bring out how an adult child’s educational attainment has an impact on their parents’ mental and physical health.

Some of the important conclusions from the research:

“We know how our own education impacts our own health; we know how parents’ education impacts their children in many different ways; now we’re trying to add to that understanding by explaining how children’s education can have an impact on their parents. One thing I thought particularly interesting about these findings is that those parents who are the least likely to have a child attain a college education (low socioeconomic status) seem to benefit the most from a child having a college degree,” explained Lee.

Reasons/ elements behind this hypothesis/ relation of the child’s education-parent’s health include anxiety, assistance and lifestyle of the duo. “Parents whose children have lower levels of education might spend more time worrying about their children. That has negative implications for their mental health and their self-rated health,” said Lee. “Kids without a degree might need more help from their parents and are also less able to provide help if needed in return.”

“Another possibility is that educated children might be doing a better job of helping their parents live healthier lives by encouraging exercise and a sensible diet,” according to the author Lee.

The researchers surveyed a large number of participants to conclude their observations. Dennison and Lee have both used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health in their previous research. They conducted the survey with the help of Add Health, which  is a nationally representative longitudinal study of over 20,000 adolescents.

(with ANI inputs)

Image: Unsplash

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