Sheepskin or Prozac: The Causal Effect of Education on Mental Health

45 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2006

See all articles by Arnaud Chevalier

Arnaud Chevalier

University College Dublin (UCD) - Institute for the Study of Social Change; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Leon Feinstein

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: July 2006

Abstract

Mental illness is associated with large costs to individuals and society. Education improves various health outcomes but little work has been done on mental illness. To obtain unbiased estimates of the effect of education on mental health, we rely on a rich longitudinal dataset that contains health information from childhood to adulthood and thus allow us to control for fixed effects in mental health. We measure two health outcomes: malaise score and depression and estimate the extensive and intensive margins of education on mental health using various estimators. For all estimators, accounting for the endogeneity of education augments its protecting effect on mental health. We find that the effect of education is greater at mid-level of qualifications, for women and for individuals at greater risk of mental illness. The effects of education are observed at all ages, additionally education also reduces the transition to depression. These results suggest substantial returns to education in term of improved mental health.

Keywords: returns to education, mental health

JEL Classification: I12, I29

Suggested Citation

Chevalier, Arnaud and Feinstein, Leon, Sheepskin or Prozac: The Causal Effect of Education on Mental Health (July 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2231. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=923530

Arnaud Chevalier (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) - Institute for the Study of Social Change ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4
Ireland
+353 1 716 4616 (Phone)
+353 1 716 1108 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Leon Feinstein

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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