Journal Article

Health behavior-based selection into educational tracks starts in early adolescence

Koivusilta, L. K., Rimpelä, A. H., Rimpelä, M. K., Vikat, A.
Health Education Research, 16:2, 201–214 (2001)


Health behaviors and educational tracks of an individual are here presumed to have a strengthening influence on each other during the developmental process, through which individuals gradually reach their adult health and social position. This longitudinal study of a Finnish nationally representative sample of 12 year olds born in 1970 (N = 1009) examined the associations of health behaviors at ages 12 and 14 with educational track at age 16. The dependent variable, educational track, classified the respondents into five successive categories, thought to predict their adult social position. Selection into different educational tracks according to health behaviors was obvious already at age 12, when frequency of tooth brushing, consumption of sweets, coffee drinking and level of participation in physical exercise predicted educational track independently of sociodemographic background. At age 14, the independent predictors were smoking, frequency of tooth brushing and coffee drinking. At both ages, sociodemographic factors had independent associations with educational track. It seems that certain health-related behaviors in early adolescence are indicators of a person's possibilities to benefit from a country's educational supply. Both sociodemographic background and health-related behaviors influence the process of selection into educational tracks leading to social position and health in adulthood. (© 2001 BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS)
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