Changes in Compulsory Schooling and the Causal Effect of Education on Health: Evidence from Germany

37 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2010

See all articles by Hendrik Jürges

Hendrik Jürges

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA); German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Steffen Reinhold

E.CA Economics

Daniel Kemptner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Date Written: June 8, 2010

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the causal effect of years of schooling on health and health-related behavior in West Germany. We apply an instrumental variables approach using as natural experiments several changes in compulsory schooling laws between 1949 and 1969. These law changes generate exogenous variation in years of schooling both across states and over time. We find evidence for a strong and significant causal effect of years of schooling on long-term illness for men but not for women. Moreover, we provide somewhat weaker evidence of a causal effect of education on the likelihood of having weight problems for both sexes. On the other hand, we find little evidence for a causal effect of education on smoking behavior. Overall, our estimates suggest significant non-monetary returns to education with respect to health outcomes and not necessarily with respect to health-related behavior.

Keywords: School reform, Health, Obesity, Smoking, Instrumental Variables

JEL Classification: I12, I21

Suggested Citation

Jürges, Hendrik and Reinhold, Steffen and Kemptner, Daniel, Changes in Compulsory Schooling and the Causal Effect of Education on Health: Evidence from Germany (June 8, 2010). MEA Discussion Paper No. 200-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1641099 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1641099

Hendrik Jürges

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA) ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Steffen Reinhold (Contact Author)

E.CA Economics ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
Berlin, 10178
Germany

Daniel Kemptner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

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