Education and the Social Stratification of Pain at Midlife

Graphic representing different levels of pain in society

Chronic pain is an alarming and consequential health issue of global relevance, whose burden is, however, unevenly distributed across society. Existing studies stratify respondents by their level of education, but the relationship between education and pain may be confounded by socioeconomic background and knowledge accumulation. Using restricted-access data from the High School and Beyond study, we investigate the relationship between socioeconomic origin, educational processes and pain experiences at midlife. We find that people with higher standardized math test scores and higher GPAs in their senior year are less likely to experience pain every day. Net of individual educational achievement, there is evidence of a health advantage only for children of college graduates. About one-half of the associations between high school GPA, math test scores and pain persist after we include controls for educational attainment, thus showing that educational processes may offer relevant insights into the determinants of pain disparities.

E. Boschetti, University of Wisconsin-Madison; E. Grodsky, University of Wisconsin; J. Warren, University of Minnesota; C. Muller, The University of Texas at Austin.

Friday, April 14, 2023
PAA, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA