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Educational Heterogeneity in the Association between Smoking Cessation and Health Information

Dean R. Lillard

A chapter in Human Capital and Health Behavior, 2017, vol. 25, pp 183-206 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract I investigate the well-known educational gradient in smoking. It is well established that, at least in recent decades, people with higher levels of education are less likely to smoke and, conditional on being a smoker, are more likely to quit than are people with less education. Using longitudinal data on lifetime smoking histories, I explore whether the educational gradient changes when one accounts for differences in the amount of information smokers have about the health risks associated with smoking. At the core of the analysis is a new way to measure not only the flow of information a person receives but also a person’s stock of information in any year. I construct measures of the stock and flow of information with consumer magazine articles that discuss cigarette smoking and health. To calculate exposure, I predict individuals’ reading of particular magazines and link predicted exposure to data on individual smoking status in every year of life. The analysis sample includes many individuals who started smoking in the 1930s and 1940s – well before scientific evidence had accumulated. After replicating the education gradient in terms of smoking cessation, I show that it is mostly explained by the interaction between educational attainment and the stock of knowledge individuals possess. The findings suggest that education affects whether and how a stock of health risk information induces people to quit smoking.

Keywords: Information stock, flow; ,tobacco,health,education,smoking cessation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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