Health Behavior Change among Middle Aged and Older Americans: SES Differences in Changes and Adherence

Rachel Margolis, University of Pennsylvania

Research on SES differences in health behaviors and health outcomes has not addressed the role of behavior change. In this analysis, I examine which middle aged and older Americans make changes in health behaviors after reporting new chronic conditions for which lifestyle changes are important for the management of the conditions. I examine patterns of behavior change for smoking, drinking, and exercise as well as adherence to these changes and analyze education differences in behavior change and adherence. I find that education is positively associated with smoking cessation after reporting new chronic conditions, but not adherence to smoking cessation. Education is negatively associated with drinking cessation and adherence to this lifestyle change. I find no differences by education in starting exercise after new reported conditions, but conditional on starting to exercise, the more educated are more likely to make exercise a sustained lifestyle change.

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Presented in Session 193: The Dynamics of SES and Health