Public Release: 

College completion and health among disadvantaged minorities

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Researchers report health effects associated with college completion for disadvantaged minorities. Previous studies have suggested that college graduates tend to live healthier and longer lives than individuals who do not complete higher education. However, such benefits are not distributed equally across all college graduates. For instance, disparities in life expectancy between black and white college graduates become increasingly apparent at higher levels of educational achievement. Kathleen Mullan Harris and colleagues studied how college completion influenced rates of depression and metabolic syndrome in non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic young adults in the United States. The authors analyzed socioeconomic and health data from more than 10,000 participants of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, an ongoing, nationally representative study of American adolescents followed through adulthood. Although black and Hispanic individuals experienced significantly higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage during childhood than their white peers, college graduates across every racial group exhibited lower rates of depression than individuals without a college degree, regardless of childhood disadvantages. Contrary to the findings on depression, college completion was associated with higher rates of metabolic syndrome in black and Hispanic college graduates, compared with their noncollege counterparts; in contrast, college completion was associated with decreased rates of metabolic syndrome in white graduates. According to the authors, the findings carry implications for understanding racial disparities in health.


Article #17-14616: "College completion predicts lower depression but higher metabolic syndrome among disadvantaged minorities in young adulthood," by Lauren Gaydosh et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC; tel: 919-962-6158; e-mail: <>

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