Education and Health Conditions Among the Currently Incarcerated and the Non-incarcerated Populations

  • Connor M. Sheehan
Original Research


Previous research has found a strong link between educational attainment and health, where the highly educated live longer and healthier lives than those with lower levels of education. Because such research has relied on samples of the non-institutionalized population, previous research has not explored the association between education and specific chronic and infectious health conditions among the currently incarcerated. Analyzing the relationship between education and health conditions among the incarcerated, who tend to be less healthy and for whom many of the intermediate mechanisms between education and health are held relatively constant in prison, may yield new insights. Using the 2002–2004 National Health Interview Study (N = 74,881), the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities (N = 17,553), and interaction terms from logistic regression models, I compared the strength of the association between educational attainment and the presence of chronic and infectious health conditions among the incarcerated and non-incarcerated populations. These models indicated generally stronger negative associations between educational attainment and chronic conditions among the non-incarcerated, while the negative relationship between education and hepatitis was stronger for the incarcerated. These results suggest that while education may play a lesser role for chronic conditions for the incarcerated, it can still important for avoiding risky health behaviors.


Incarceration Education Health Hepatitis 



I thank the National Institute of Aging training Grant (T32 AG000037) for support and the University of Minnesota for making the NHIS data available to the public. I thank Becky Petitt, Mark Hayward, Robert Hummer, Tetyana Pudrovska, Daniel Powers, four anonymous reviewers, and Debra Umberson for their helpful comments. The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the author and do not represent the views of the National Institute of Aging or the University of Southern California.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 52 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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