International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 261–270 | Cite as

Social inequality and smoking in young Swiss men: intergenerational transmission of cultural capital and health orientation

  • Dominik SchoriEmail author
  • Karen Hofmann
  • Thomas Abel
Original Article



Smoking is related to income and education and contributes to social inequality in morbidity and mortality. Socialisation theories focus on one’s family of origin as regards acquisition of norms, attitudes and behaviours. Aim of this study is to assess associations of daily smoking with health orientation and academic track in young Swiss men. Further, to assess associations of health orientation and academic track with family healthy lifestyle, parents’ cultural capital, and parents’ economic capital.


Cross-sectional data were collected during recruitment for compulsory military service in Switzerland during 2010 and 2011. A structural equation model was fitted to a sample of 18- to 25-year-old Swiss men (N = 10,546).


Smoking in young adults was negatively associated with academic track and health orientation. Smoking was negatively associated with parents’ cultural capital through academic track. Smoking was negatively associated with health orientation which in turn was positively associated with a healthy lifestyle in the family of origin.


Results suggest two different mechanisms of intergenerational transmissions: first, the family transmission path of health-related dispositions, and secondly, the structural transmission path of educational inequality.


Smoking Young adults Social inequalities Socialisation theory 



This study was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (No. 105313_130068_/1). The study used data from the Swiss Federal Surveys of Adolescents (ch-x), collected by the ch-x research consortium ch-x cc. Project management: Institute for the Management and Economics of Education, University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland Zug: Stephan Huber. Research partners: Institute for Education Evaluation, associated institute of the University of Zurich: Urs Moser; Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern: Thomas Abel; and the Department of Sociology, University of Geneva: Sandro Cattacin.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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