br Data and methods br Results
Data and methods
Results Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of the full sample and by gender. Table 2 shows results from 9 linear regression models of the three biomarker indices for the full sample and by gender. The coefficients associated with covariates (age, gender, race/ethnicity, and NHANES wave) are omitted for parsimony and are available on request. HS diploma is the reference level of education. In all nine models, BA is associated with a significantly (p<.001) and substantially – in terms of absolute size of the coefficients – lower biological risk than HS. At the other end of the education spectrum, the completion of less than HS is associated with significantly higher biological risk in 7 of 9 models. The effects are all significant at p<.001 for women; among men, the difference is not significant for metabolic syndrome and cumulative risk indices. Fig. 1 visually summarizes the education-biomarker patterns for the full sample. The plots display the BA biological risk “premium” in terms of significantly lower risk levels for BA relative to HS. The academic AA levels are also significantly lower than HS and the risk is roughly half way between a HS and a BA. Finally, the plots show the largely negligible returns to schooling for those with “some college” and vocational AA.
Discussion This Short Communication study builds on recent findings that adults with college education but without a BA – the subbaccalaureate group – report more health problems than HS graduates, their peers with less schooling. To test whether this pattern could be due to reporting differences, we examined biological risk levels at the subbaccaluareate level compared to the HS diploma level, with added “bookends” of less-than-HS and BA levels to frame the sub-BA pattern in a wider set of educational attainment levels. We found no instances where the subbaccalaureate group had significantly worse biological risk profile than the HS group. This is in THZ2 to the self-reports (Zajacova, Rogers & Johnson-Lawrence, 2012) and suggests that some of the sub-BA health penalty stemmed from differential reporting of health conditions by HS graduates versus those who attended college. However, our findings corroborate other studies where health returns to subbaccalaureate education were modest or not significant (Skalamera & Hummer, 2016). Another important open question pertains to population heterogeneity in the health of the subbaccalaureate groups. In our Short Communication, we analyzed men and women separately and found some differences; in particular, men appeared to benefit more from academic AA than women relative to their HS graduate peers. This pattern could be due to gender differences in the health returns to education (Ross, Masters & Hummer, 2012) or due to general gender differences in physiological dysregulation (Yang & Kozloski, 2011). To understand the subbaccalaureate patterns well, it will be necessary to further explore potential gender, as well as race/ethnic, heterogeneity. Finally, the nature of postsecondary education, especially at the subbaccalaureate level, has changed considerably in recent decades (Schofer & Meyer, 2005). In our study, we did not take into account the respondents\' birth cohort directly (beyond the joint effects of age and NHANES wave) – however, it is possible that the subbaccalaureate education may have smaller returns to health in more recent cohorts when the expectation of a BA has become rather normative and consequently the some-college experience may be less beneficial. This question is critical in order to predict the payoffs to subbaccalaureate education in the future. After establishing the observational associations for the different dimensions of health in the total population, across major population groups, and by cohorts, it will be crucial to examine the causes of the patterns in order to understand why subbaccalaureate education offers little health payoffs from their additional schooling, and why there is such a pronounced difference between the two types of AA degrees.