Education and Health: Insights from International Comparisons

46 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2012 Last revised: 10 Jan 2012

See all articles by David M. Cutler

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Adriana Lleras-Muney

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2012

Abstract

In this review we synthesize what is known about the relationship between education and health. A large number of studies from both rich and poor countries show that education is associated with better health. While previous work has thought of the effect of education separately for rich and poor countries, we argue that there are insights to be gained by integrating the two. For example, education is associated with lower malnutrition in most countries, but in richer countries the educated have lower BMIs whereas in poor countries the educated have higher BMIs. This suggests that the behaviors associated with better health differ depending on the level of development. We illustrate this approach by comparing the effects of education on various health and health behaviors around the world, to generate hypotheses about why education is so often (but not always) predictive of health. Finally, we review the empirical evidence on the relationship between education and health, paying particular attention to causal evidence and evidence on mechanisms linking education to better health.

Suggested Citation

Cutler, David M. and Lleras-Muney, Adriana, Education and Health: Insights from International Comparisons (January 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w17738. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1981146

David M. Cutler (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Adriana Lleras-Muney

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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