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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
CMW and SLT conceived the study and drafted the manuscript. CMW, SLT and MI conducted analyses and interpreted the results. MRC and SLT developed and tested the healthy aging construct. PDSJ contributed to the acquisition of data and funding for the larger study from which secondary data were used for this manuscript, and to revision of the manuscript for intellectual content. All authors reviewed and approved the final version submitted for publication.
The beneficial effects of higher education on healthy aging are generally accepted, but the mechanisms are less well understood. Education may influence healthy aging through improved employment opportunities that enhance feelings of personal control and reduce hazardous exposures, or through higher incomes that enable individuals to access better health care or to reside in better neighbourhoods. Income and occupation have not been explored extensively as potential mediators of the effect of education on healthy aging. This study investigates the role of income and occupation in the association between education and healthy aging including potential effect modification by gender.
Logistic regression was used to explore the association of education, income (perceived income adequacy, life satisfaction with finances) and occupation (occupational prestige) with healthy aging five years later in 946 community-dwelling adults 65+ years from a population-based, prospective cohort study in Manitoba, Canada.
Higher levels of education generally increased the likelihood of healthy aging. After adjusting for education, both income measures, but not occupation, predicted healthy aging among men; furthermore, the association between education and healthy aging was no longer significant. Income and occupation did not explain the significant association between education and healthy aging among women.
Perceived income adequacy and life satisfaction with finances explained the beneficial effects of higher education on healthy aging among men, but not women. Identifying predictors of healthy aging and the mechanisms through which these factors exert their effects can inform strategies to maximize the likelihood of healthy aging.