A meta-analysis of education effects on chronic disease: The causal dynamics of the Population Education Transition Curve

William C. Smith, Emily Anderson, Daniel Salinas, Renata Horvatek, David P. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

As the Epidemiological Transition progresses worldwide, chronic diseases account for the majority of deaths in developed countries and a rising proportion in developing countries indicating a new global pattern of mortality and health challenges into the future. Attainment of formal education is widely reported to have a negative gradient with risk factors and onset of chronic disease, yet there has not been a formal assessment of this research. A random-effects meta-analysis finds that across 414 published effects more education significantly reduces the likelihood of chronic disease, except for neoplastic diseases with substantial genetic causes. Some studies, however, report null effects and other research on infectious disease report positive education gradients. Instead of assuming these contradictory results are spurious, it is suggested that they are part of a predictable systemic interaction between multiple mediating effects of education and the Epidemiological Transition stage of the population; and thus represent one case of the Population Education Transition Curve modeling changes in the association between education and health as dependent on population context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume127
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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