, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 309-317
Date: 25 Dec 2013

Explaining educational inequalities in adolescent life satisfaction: do health behaviour and gender matter?

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There is little evidence on the explanation of health inequalities based on a gender sensitive perspective. The aim was to investigate to what extent health behaviours mediate the association between educational inequalities and life satisfaction of boys and girls.


Data were derived from the German part of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study 2010 (n = 5,005). Logistic regression models were conducted to investigate educational inequalities in life satisfaction among 11- to 15-year-old students and the relative impact of health behaviour in explaining these inequalities.


Educational inequalities in life satisfaction were more pronounced in boys than in girls from lower educational tracks (OR 2.82, 95 % CI 1.97–4.05 and OR 2.30, 95 % CI 1.68–3.14). For adolescents belonging to the lowest educational track, behavioural factors contributed to 18 % (boys) and 39 % (girls) in the explanation of educational inequalities in life satisfaction.


The relationship between educational track and life satisfaction is substantially mediated by health-related behaviours. To tackle inequalities in adolescent health, behavioural factors should be targeted at adolescents from lower educational tracks, with special focus on gender differences.