International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 309–317 | Cite as

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

  • Irene MoorEmail author
  • Thomas Lampert
  • Katharina Rathmann
  • Benjamin Kuntz
  • Petra Kolip
  • Jacob Spallek
  • Matthias Richter
Original Article



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.


Health behaviour HBSC Adolescent health Social inequality Gender 



The “Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC)” study is an international survey conducted in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The current International Coordinator is Professor Candace Currie, CAHRU, University of St Andrews and the Data Bank Manager is Dr Oddrun Samdal, University of Bergen.

Conflict of interest

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Moor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Lampert
    • 2
  • Katharina Rathmann
    • 1
  • Benjamin Kuntz
    • 2
  • Petra Kolip
    • 3
  • Jacob Spallek
    • 4
  • Matthias Richter
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Faculty, Institute of Medical Sociology (IMS)Martin-Luther-University Halle-WittenbergHalle/SaaleGermany
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Health MonitoringRobert Koch InstituteBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of Prevention and Health Promotion, School of Public HealthUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology and International Public Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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