The Effect of Education on Health and Mortality: A Review of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence

65 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2017 Last revised: 2 Feb 2018

See all articles by Titus J. Galama

Titus J. Galama

USC Center for Economic and Social Research

Adriana Lleras-Muney

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

Hans van Kippersluis

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE)

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Date Written: November 20, 2017

Abstract

Education is strongly associated with better health and longer lives. However, the extent to which education causes health and longevity is widely debated. We develop a human capital framework to structure the interpretation of the empirical evidence. We then review evidence on the causal effects of education on mortality and its two most common preventable causes: smoking and obesity. We focus attention on evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials, twin studies, and quasi-experiments. There is no convincing evidence of an effect of education on obesity, and the effects on smoking are only apparent when schooling reforms affect individuals’ track or their peer group, but not when they simply increase the duration of schooling. An effect of education on mortality exists in some contexts but not in others, and seems to depend on (i) gender; (ii) the labor market returns to education; (iii) the quality of education; and (iv) whether education affects the quality of individuals’ peers.

Keywords: education, health, mortality, health behaviors, health disparities, causality

Suggested Citation

Galama, Titus J. and Lleras-Muney, Adriana and van Kippersluis, Hans, The Effect of Education on Health and Mortality: A Review of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence (November 20, 2017). CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper No. 2017-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3081283 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3081283

Titus J. Galama (Contact Author)

USC Center for Economic and Social Research ( email )

Playa Vista, CA
United States
+310 430 6358 (Phone)

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

Hans Van Kippersluis

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA
Netherlands

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