Understanding the Mechanisms Linking College Education with Longevity

76 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2015 Last revised: 6 Apr 2020

See all articles by Kai Hong

Kai Hong

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD); New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Peter A. Savelyev

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

Kegon Tan

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics; University of Wisconsin - Madison - Institute for Research on Poverty

Date Written: March 31, 2020

Abstract

We go beyond estimating the effect of college attainment on longevity by uncovering the mechanisms behind this effect while controlling for latent skills and unobserved heterogeneity. We decompose the effect with respect to a large set of potential mechanisms, including health behaviors, lifestyles, earnings, work conditions, and health at the start of the risk period (1993-2017). Our estimates are based on the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study and show that the effect of education on longevity is well explained by observed mechanisms. Furthermore, we find that for women, the positive effect of education on longevity has been historically masked by the negative effect of education on marriage. An adjustment for the relationship between education and marriage based on data for more recent cohorts increases the explained effect of education on longevity for women. We discuss the implications for policies aimed at improving health and longevity and reducing health inequality.

Keywords: college education, longevity, mechanisms, health behaviors, lifestyles

JEL Classification: C41, I12, J24

Suggested Citation

Hong, Kai and Savelyev, Peter A. and Tan, Kegon, Understanding the Mechanisms Linking College Education with Longevity (March 31, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2638735 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2638735

Kai Hong

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) ( email )

1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
United States

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

Peter A. Savelyev (Contact Author)

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
7573788654 (Phone)

Kegon Tan

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Institute for Research on Poverty

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States

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