Human Capital Spillovers and Health: Does Living Around College Graduates Lengthen Life?

63 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2024

See all articles by Jacob Bor

Jacob Bor

Boston University - Department of Global Health

David M. Cutler

Harvard University

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ljubica Ristovska

Yale University

Date Written: April 2024

Abstract

Equally educated people are healthier if they live in more educated places. Every 10 percent point increase in an area’s share of adults with a college degree is associated with a decline in all-cause mortality by 7%, controlling for individual education, demographics, and area characteristics. Area human capital is also associated with lower disease prevalence and improvements in self-reported health. The association between area education and health increased greatly between 1990 and 2010. Spatial sorting does not drive these externalities; there is little evidence that sicker people move disproportionately into less educated areas. Differences in health-related amenities, ranging from hospital quality to pollution, explain no more than 17% of the area human capital spillovers on health. Over half of the correlation between area human capital and health is a result of the correlation between area human capital and smoking and obesity. More educated areas have stricter regulations regarding smoking and more negative beliefs about smoking. These have translated over time into a population that smokes noticeably less and that is less obese, leading to increasing divergence in health outcomes by area education.

Note:

Funding Information: Cutler thanks the National Institute for Aging, and Glaeser thanks the Taubman Center for State and Local Government for financial support.

Conflict of Interests: Edward L. Glaeser has received speaking fees from organizations that organize members that invest in real estate markets, including the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers, the Pension Real Estate Association and the Association for International Real Estate Investors. No other conflicts.

Suggested Citation

Bor, Jacob and Cutler, David M. and Glaeser, Edward L. and Ristovska, Ljubica, Human Capital Spillovers and Health: Does Living Around College Graduates Lengthen Life? (April 2024). NBER Working Paper No. w32346, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4802561

Jacob Bor (Contact Author)

Boston University - Department of Global Health ( email )

David M. Cutler

Harvard University

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Ljubica Ristovska

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