Diminished returns of educational attainment on life satisfaction among Black and Latino older adults transitioning into retirement

TitleDiminished returns of educational attainment on life satisfaction among Black and Latino older adults transitioning into retirement
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsAssari, S
JournalJournal of Medicine, Surgery, and Public Health
Volume2
Pagination100091
ISSN Number2949-916X
KeywordsEducation, Elderly, Life Satisfaction, middle-aged, Retirement, Wellbeing
Abstract

Background This paper investigates the intricate relationship between race/ethnicity, educational attainment, and life satisfaction among middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Guided by the theory of Minorities' Diminished Returns (MDRs), positing that returns on educational attainment are attenuated for minoritized populations, this study aims to explore racial/ethnic disparities in the impact of educational attainment on the life satisfaction of middle-aged and older adults. Methods This was a secondary analysis of existing data. Utilizing data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we employed a longitudinal design with a nationally representative sample of middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Key variables of interest included educational attainment, race/ethnicity, and average life satisfaction from wave 9–15 (20–30 years later). Statistical analysis included regression models to assess the associations between educational attainment and life satisfaction overall and by race and ethnicity. Results Overall, 5274 participants entered our analysis and were followed for up to 30 years. Our initial findings revealed a positive association between educational attainment and life satisfaction. Subsequently, we identified significant interactions between race/ethnicity and educational attainment, indicating notable racial and ethnic differences in the impact of educational attainment on life satisfaction. The effects of baseline on future educational attainment and life satisfaction were weaker for Black and Latino than non-Latino White counterparts. Conclusions In accordance with the Minorities' Diminished Returns theory, Black and Latino middle-aged and older adults experience a less pronounced positive impact of educational attainment on life satisfaction compared to their Non-Latino and White counterparts. There are non-additive complex interplay between educational attainment and race and ethnicity on subjective well-being of middle-aged and older adults. The identified disparities in the returns of educational attainment underscore the critical need to recognize and address structural barriers that contribute to the diminished returns of educational attainment for Black and Latino populations.

DOI10.1016/j.glmedi.2024.100091
Citation KeyASSARI2024100091