Effects of Compulsory Schooling on Mortality – Evidence from Sweden

33 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2013 Last revised: 27 Sep 2013

See all articles by Martin Fischer

Martin Fischer

University of Duisburg-Essen; Ruhr Graduate School in Economics

Martin Karlsson

University of Duisburg-Essen

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 2, 2013


Theoretically, there are several reasons to expect education to have a positive effect on health, and empirical research suggests that education can be an important health determinant. However, it has not yet been established whether education and health are indeed causally-related, and the effects found in previous studies may be partially attributable to methodological weaknesses. Moreover, existing evidence on the education-health relationship using information of schooling reforms for identification, generally uses information from fairly recent reforms implying that health outcomes are observed only over a limited time period. This paper examines the effect of education on mortality using information on a national roll-out of a reform leading to one extra year of compulsory schooling in Sweden. In 1936, the national government made a seventh school year compulsory; however, the implementation was decided at the school district level, and the reform was implemented over a period of 12 years. Taking advantage of the variation in the timing of the implementation across school districts, by using county-level proportions of reformed districts, census data and administrative mortality data, we find that the extra compulsory school year reduced mortality. In fact, the mortality reduction is discernible already before the age of 30 and then grows in magnitude until the age of 55-60.

Keywords: Returns to schooling, education reform, mortality

JEL Classification: I12, I14, I18, I21

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Martin and Karlsson, Martin and Nilsson, Therese, Effects of Compulsory Schooling on Mortality – Evidence from Sweden (September 2, 2013). Ruhr Economic Paper No. 441. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2325292 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2325292

Martin Fischer

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Schützenbahn 70
Essen, 45127

Ruhr Graduate School in Economics

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
Essen, DE NRW 45128

Martin Karlsson (Contact Author)

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund
+46 46 222 46 43 (Phone)

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