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Changes in Compulsory Schooling and the Causal Effect of Education on Health: Evidence from Germany

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  • Kemptner, Daniel

    ()

  • Jürges, Hendrik

    ()

  • Reinhold, Steffen

    ()
    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the causal effect of years of schooling on health and health-related behavior in West Germany. We apply an instrumental variables approach using as natural experiments several changes in compulsory schooling laws between 1949 and 1969. These law changes generate exogenous variation in years of schooling both across states and over time. We find evidence for a strong and significant causal effect of years of schooling on long-term illness for men but not for women. Moreover, we provide somewhat weaker evidence of a causal effect of education on the likelihood of having weight problems for both sexes. On the other hand, we find little evidence for a causal effect of education on smoking behavior. Overall, our estimates suggest significant non-monetary returns to education with respect to health outcomes and not necessarily with respect to health-related behavior.

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Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 10200.

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Date of creation: 05 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:10200

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  2. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2003. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence from the German Short School Years," IZA Discussion Papers 874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Jorn-Steffen Pischke & Till von Wachter, 2005. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling In Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 11414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen & Salm, Martin, 2009. "Does Schooling Affect Health Behavior? Evidence from the Educational Expansion in Western Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4330, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  16. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  17. Steffen Reinhold & Hendrik Jürges, 2009. "Secondary School Fees and the Causal Effect of Schooling on Health Behavior," MEA discussion paper series 09181, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  18. Rodolfo Nayga, 2000. "Schooling, health knowledge and obesity," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(7), pages 815-822.
  19. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
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  21. de Walque, Damien, 2007. "Does education affect smoking behaviors?: Evidence using the Vietnam draft as an instrument for college education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 877-895, September.
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