Durable Disparity: The Emergence and Entrenchment of the Great American Smoking Gap

My dissertation consists of three papers that investigate how and why cigarette smoking became socioeconomically stratified in the United States. In the first paper, I use smokers’ life histories collected by the National Health Interview Survey and build discrete time hazard models that estimate individuals’ risks of initiation and cessation by their birth cohorts, and how these were influenced by socioeconomic status in different periods of the twentieth century.  I supplement the quantitative analysis with a study of cigarette advertising on the cusp of the twentieth century. In the second paper, I use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the role of within-family transmission of cigarette smoking in constructing and maintaining the socioeconomic inequality in smoking across generations. The final paper evaluates if and to what extent have local smoke-free policies shaped the socioeconomic distribution of smoking in the American population. My research makes both theoretical and empirical contributions to the ongoing debate about the origin and persistence of health disparities.