Smith-Greenaway, Emily, Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, and William G. Axinn. 2018. “Offspring Education and Parental Mortality: Evidence from South Asia.” Social Science Research 76:157-168.
Decades of research show that education not only confers individual health benefits, but it also spills over to advantage subsequent generations. More recently, research has confirmed that the intergenerational health benefits of education can also flow upward: aging adults with more highly educated children experience better health and higher survival. Research has documented this finding in high-income settings, and also in select low- and middle-income contexts, raising questions about how having an adult child who attended relatively low levels of education can benefit aging parents’ well-being. In this study, we use multilevel, long-term panel data on a cohort of older adults from the Chitwan Valley Family Study in rural Nepal to establish whether the association between offspring education and parents’ survival is observable in this extremely poor, agrarian context. Extending past studies, we then leverage additional data on older adults to examine the association between offspring education and two theorized mechanisms: older adults’ better health behaviors and their greater support in later life.