Objectives: Intergenerational educational mobility can be particularly relevant for smoking because it implies moving from individuals' family background to a new position in the social hierarchy. Existing research, however, does not provide an answer as to how the process of mobility, per se, is associated with the likelihood of smoking. Study design: We used cross-nationally comparable survey data for 20 countries collected within the health module of the European Social Survey in 2014. The analytical sample consisted of 22,336 respondents aged 25–64 years. Methods: Smoking was operationalized by daily and occasional smoking, while the intergenerational educational mobility variable was derived from a comparison of respondents' and their parents' highest levels of educational attainment. We employed diagonal reference models to examine the association of intergenerational educational mobility and smoking. Results: In the country- and age-adjusted analysis, intergenerational downward mobility was associated with odds ratios of 1.34 (CI95 1.07, 1.68) and 1.61 (CI95 1.34, 1.93) for smoking, respectively, among men and women. Intergenerational upward mobility, on the other hand, was negatively associated with smoking but only among women. Conclusion: Our findings provide new evidence that the process of intergenerational educational mobility is associated with individuals' likelihood of smoking and that this effect cannot be explained by conventional covariates of smoking.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Authors acknowledge financial support from the Oxford University Press John Fell Fund–reference number 162/037. The sponsor did not play any role in study design; in the analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.
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