Home Away From Home: Education, Health, and Nursing Home Care

TitleHome Away From Home: Education, Health, and Nursing Home Care
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsRyan, C
Academic DepartmentSociology
DegreeMaster of Arts
UniversityThe Pennsylvania State University
CityState College, PA
KeywordsEducation, health, nursing home care

Nursing homes are dominant late-life health care institutions slated to grow in importance as the United States experiences a dramatic demographic shift characterized by a significant segment of the population entering older age groups. Though a substantial portion of the U.S. population is about to enter the period of life in which they are at highest risk of entering a nursing home, we know little about how their demographic identities and accumulated resources influence their decisions about using nursing homes. This study contributes a more thorough examination of the relationship between education, health, and use of nursing homes. Education is hypothesized to affect nursing home usage through two pathways: access (e.g., institutional familiarity) and need (e.g., development of health conditions). Two different models are run using data from Wave 13 of the Health and Retirement Study to explore these questions. The results show that the link between education and nursing home usage primarily operates through the access pathway, as high school and college-educated respondents had significantly higher odds of reporting any nursing home usage compared to their non-degree-holding peers but did not show a significant difference in the expected time spent in nursing homes. These findings have important implications for the influence of education over the life course into older ages and highlight a potential source of health inequity.

Citation Key13061