Parental Education Matters for Adolescent Health: The Importance of Parental Education in the US

Jia Yu


Parents, not doctors, are the primary gatekeepers of their children’s health. Parental behavior plays an important role in child health during the prenatal and childhood (post-natal) periods. This paper investigates the association between parental schooling on the one hand, and adolescent health outcomes (height and weight) and general health status (missing school days due to illness/injuries and number of times in ER/ED) on the other. Using recent data from National Health Interview Studies (NHIS) from 2010 to 2011, I aim to understand the mechanisms through which parental schooling affects adolescent health. The results show that parental education has a significant effect on children health status as expected. Notable findings of this paper include the followings: the effects of the paternal education level on adolescent health are much more significant than the effects of mother’s; and parental educational partly affects adolescent health indirectly through the influence on income, employment, family structure, and insurance enrollment.

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