Theses and Dissertations


Li Zheng

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Cossman, Jeralynn S.

Committee Member

Chi, Guangqing

Committee Member

Kelly, Kimberly C.

Committee Member

Brauner-Otto, Sarah R.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


Using longitudinal data from Panel Study of Income and Dynamic (PSID) and multivariate analyses, this dissertation examines the dynamic and longitudinal relationship between gender, occupational career and health among people of working age under the new economy. The major concern is whether there are gender differences in the health returns to occupation/employment resources across life course, whether the gendered health gap diverges with age, and whether health affect men' and women's employment transitions and occupational mobility differently. Results show that women experience significantly poorer health than men, but this health gap reduces with aging. The health disadvantages experienced by women are entirely explained by SES status. Working becomes increasingly important to maintain health as people age. However, women receive far fewer health rewards from employment than men, and this unequal health returns to employment are compounded with age. The health benefit from a higher occupational status is similar for men and women across the life course. More importantly, all else being equal, health of women declines at a rate half that of men, showing a reversed gender health gap toward old age. Regarding health selection, results show that health is not a predictor of occupational status for either men or women, but is an important predictor for employment status and downward mobility of both genders. From a theoretical standpoint, this research illustrates the limitation of using one dominate life course theory, and calls for a more prominent theory that examine both biological and social processes that contribute to the life course gender health inequality. Methodologically, results suggest the superiority of combining longitudinal designs with hierarchical longitudinal models, which are able entangle the within-person health change and between-person effects of time. From a policy standpoint, the study suggests that familyriendly policies should be able to improve both women's employment and, by extension, their health status.