Education or Economic Status? Comparing Their Relative Effect on Prime-Age Adult Mortality in India Using Longitudinal Survey Data

Moradhvaj Dhakad , Austrian Academy of Science
Samir K. C., Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Erich Striessnig, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Wolfgang Lutz, Wittgenstein Centre
Nandita Saikia, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Health status of the population is closely related to the level of socio-economic development; however, the phenomenon remains largely unexplored in developing countries. Using nationally representative data from the Indian Human Development Survey, we use multi-level mixed-effects logistic regression modeling to estimate the relative effect of educational attainment and economic status on prime-age adult deaths between 2004-05 and 2011-12, controlling for important individual and community-level covariates. Around 3% adults died, with the percentage for men exceeding that for women. Educational attainment and household economic status both significantly reduce risk of death, but the decline in the risk of death with increasing education is greater than the decline associated with rising wealth quintile. Women residing in a higher educated community seem to be enjoying a protective effect of their social surrounding. When we see the effect of educational attainment among the similar economic group shows that the probability of death declines mostly in response to increasing education. While, similar mortality patterns observed across all economic groups among same level educated confirm recent findings on the changing epidemiological environment in India where specific lifestyle-related risk factors are starting to gain importance. The mortality patterns identified by this study suggest that education should be considered as a major policy priority for improving adult mortality in developing countries like India on the long run. The direct effects of higher educational attainment for the individual, there seem to be community-level of effects of education that improve the health status especially of women.

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 Presented in Session 18. Mortality Determinants