IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/jecsur/v35y2021i1p71-105.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Does Education Really Improve Health? A Meta‐Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Xindong Xue
  • Mingmei Cheng
  • Wangyongxin Zhang

Abstract

While numerous studies assess the relationship between education and health, no consensus has been reached on whether education really improves health. We perform a meta‐analysis of 4866 estimates gleaned from 99 published studies that examine the health effects of education. We find that the current literature suffers from moderate publication bias towards the positive effects of education on health. After correcting for publication bias with an array of sophisticated methods, we find that the overall effect size is practically zero, indicating that education generates no discernible benefits to health. The heterogeneity analysis by Bayesian Model Averaging (BMA) and Frequentist Model Averaging (FMA) reveals that the reported estimates can be largely explained by whether the econometric models control for endogeneity of education, the types of data and the differences in health measurements. Our results also suggest that education may not be an effective policy option for promoting population health.

Suggested Citation

  • Xindong Xue & Mingmei Cheng & Wangyongxin Zhang, 2021. "Does Education Really Improve Health? A Meta‐Analysis," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(1), pages 71-105, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:35:y:2021:i:1:p:71-105
    DOI: 10.1111/joes.12399
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/joes.12399
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1111/joes.12399?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gunby, Philip & Jin, Yinghua & Robert Reed, W., 2017. "Did FDI Really Cause Chinese Economic Growth? A Meta-Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 242-255.
    2. Johnston, David W. & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2009. "Comparing subjective and objective measures of health: Evidence from hypertension for the income/health gradient," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 540-552, May.
    3. Havranek, Tomas & Rusnak, Marek & Sokolova, Anna, 2017. "Habit formation in consumption: A meta-analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 142-167.
    4. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2012. "Education and Health: Insights from International Comparisons," NBER Working Papers 17738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Dahmann, Sarah C. & Schnitzlein, Daniel D., 2019. "No evidence for a protective effect of education on mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 241(C).
    6. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Till von Wachter, 2008. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 592-598, August.
    7. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    8. 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.
    9. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Economic Aspects of Health," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fuch82-1, June.
    10. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme & Emilia Simeonova, 2018. "Education and Mortality: Evidence from a Social Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 234-256, April.
    11. Stefan Zeugner & Martin Feldkircher, 2009. "Benchmark Priors Revisited: On Adaptive Shrinkage and the Supermodel Effect in Bayesian Model Averaging," IMF Working Papers 2009/202, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & Vibeke Jensen & Dorthe Pedersen & Inge Petersen & Paul Bingley & Kaare Christensen, 2011. "Does More Schooling Reduce Hospitalization and Delay Mortality? New Evidence Based on Danish Twins," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1347-1375, November.
    13. Petter Lundborg, 2013. "The health returns to schooling—what can we learn from twins?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 673-701, April.
    14. Gathmann, Christina & Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen, 2015. "Compulsory schooling reforms, education and mortality in twentieth century Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 74-82.
    15. Mark F. J. Steel, 2020. "Model Averaging and Its Use in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(3), pages 644-719, September.
    16. Petter Lundborg & Carl Hampus Lyttkens & Paul Nystedt, 2016. "The Effect of Schooling on Mortality: New Evidence From 50,000 Swedish Twins," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(4), pages 1135-1168, August.
    17. Hans van Kippersluis, & Owen O’Donnell & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2011. "Long-Run Returns to Education: Does Schooling Lead to an Extended Old Age?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(4), pages 695-721.
    18. Crespo, Laura & López-Noval, Borja & Mira, Pedro, 2014. "Compulsory schooling, education, depression and memory: New evidence from SHARELIFE," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 36-46.
    19. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
    20. Furukawa, Chishio, 2019. "Publication Bias under Aggregation Frictions: Theory, Evidence, and a New Correction Method," EconStor Preprints 194798, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    21. Shahram M. Amini & Christopher F. Parmeter, 2012. "Comparison Of Model Averaging Techniques: Assessing Growth Determinants," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(5), pages 870-876, August.
    22. Silles, Mary A., 2009. "The causal effect of education on health: Evidence from the United Kingdom," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 122-128, February.
    23. Albarrán, Pedro & Hidalgo-Hidalgo, Marisa & Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Iñigo, 2020. "Education and adult health: Is there a causal effect?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 249(C).
    24. Grossman, Michael, 2006. "Education and Nonmarket Outcomes," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 577-633, Elsevier.
    25. Doucouliagos, Hristos (Chris), 2011. "How large is large? Preliminary and relative guidelines for interpreting partial correlations in economics," Working Papers eco_2011_5, Deakin University, Department of Economics.
    26. Fletcher, Jason M., 2015. "New evidence of the effects of education on health in the US: Compulsory schooling laws revisited," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 101-107.
    27. Bijwaard, Govert E. & van Kippersluis, Hans & Veenman, Justus, 2015. "Education and health: The role of cognitive ability," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 29-43.
    28. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
    29. Luo, Ye & Zhang, Zhenmei & Gu, Danan, 2015. "Education and mortality among older adults in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 134-142.
    30. Isaiah Andrews & Maximilian Kasy, 2019. "Identification of and Correction for Publication Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(8), pages 2766-2794, August.
    31. T. D. Stanley, 2008. "Meta‐Regression Methods for Detecting and Estimating Empirical Effects in the Presence of Publication Selection," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(1), pages 103-127, February.
    32. Amin, Vikesh & Behrman, Jere R. & Spector, Tim D., 2013. "Does more schooling improve health outcomes and health related behaviors? Evidence from U.K. twins," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 134-148.
    33. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    34. Janke, Katharina & Johnston, David W. & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2020. "The causal effect of education on chronic health conditions in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    35. Diana Zigraiova & Tomas Havranek, 2016. "Bank Competition And Financial Stability: Much Ado About Nothing?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(5), pages 944-981, December.
    36. Kemptner, Daniel & Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen, 2011. "Changes in compulsory schooling and the causal effect of education on health: Evidence from Germany," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 340-354, March.
    37. James, Jonathan, 2015. "Health and education expansion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 193-215.
    38. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1989. "Schooling, Information and Nonmarket Productivity: Contraceptive Use and Its Effectiveness," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 457-477, May.
    39. Tomas Havranek & Zuzana Irsova & Olesia Zeynalova, 2018. "Tuition Fees and University Enrolment: A Meta‐Regression Analysis," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 80(6), pages 1145-1184, December.
    40. Tomas Havranek & Anna Sokolova, 2020. "Do Consumers Really Follow a Rule of Thumb? Three Thousand Estimates from 144 Studies Say 'Probably Not'," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 35, pages 97-122, January.
    41. David Roodman & James G. MacKinnon & Morten Ørregaard Nielsen & Matthew D. Webb, 2019. "Fast and wild: Bootstrap inference in Stata using boottest," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 19(1), pages 4-60, March.
    42. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    43. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
    44. Webbink, Dinand & Martin, Nicholas G. & Visscher, Peter M., 2010. "Does education reduce the probability of being overweight?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 29-38, January.
    45. Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
    46. Avendano, Mauricio & de Coulon, Augustin & Nafilyan, Vahé, 2020. "Does longer compulsory schooling affect mental health? Evidence from a British reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    47. Fuchs, Victor R. (ed.), 1982. "Economic Aspects of Health," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226267852.
    48. Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 2, number 2.
    49. Cazachevici, Alina & Havranek, Tomas & Horvath, Roman, 2020. "Remittances and economic growth: A meta-analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    50. Tomáš Havránek & T. D. Stanley & Hristos Doucouliagos & Pedro Bom & Jerome Geyer‐Klingeberg & Ichiro Iwasaki & W. Robert Reed & Katja Rost & R. C. M. van Aert, 2020. "Reporting Guidelines For Meta‐Analysis In Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(3), pages 469-475, July.
    51. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 12352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    52. T. D. Stanley, 2005. "Beyond Publication Bias," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 309-345, July.
    53. Albouy, Valerie & Lequien, Laurent, 2009. "Does compulsory education lower mortality?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 155-168, January.
    54. Braakmann, Nils, 2011. "The causal relationship between education, health and health related behaviour: Evidence from a natural experiment in England," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 753-763, July.
    55. Hamad, Rita & Elser, Holly & Tran, Duy C. & Rehkopf, David H. & Goodman, Steven N., 2018. "How and why studies disagree about the effects of education on health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of compulsory schooling laws," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 168-178.
    56. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 93-120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    57. Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2014. "The long lasting effects of education on old age health: Evidence of gender differences," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 129-138.
    58. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863, Elsevier.
    59. Ma, Mingming, 2019. "Does children's education matter for parents’ health and cognition? Evidence from China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 222-240.
    60. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Fabbri & Margherita Fort, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Education on Body Mass: Evidence from Europe," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 195-223.
    61. Bruce E. Hansen, 2007. "Least Squares Model Averaging," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(4), pages 1175-1189, July.
    62. Chris Doucouliagos & T.D. Stanley, 2013. "Are All Economic Facts Greatly Exaggerated? Theory Competition And Selectivity," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 316-339, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Picchio, Matteo & Ubaldi, Michele, 2022. "Unemployment and Health: A Meta-Analysis," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1128, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Bijwaard, Govert, 2021. "Educational Differences in Mortality and Hospitalisation for Cardiovascular Diseases for Males," IZA Discussion Papers 14507, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Mazhar, Ummad & Rehman, Fahd, 2022. "Productivity, obesity, and human capital: Panel data evidence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).
    4. Bautista, María Angélica & González, Felipe & Martinez, Luis R. & Muñoz, Pablo & Prem, Mounu, 2020. "Does Higher Education Reduce Mortality? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Chile," SocArXiv 5s2px, Center for Open Science.
    5. Bijwaard, Govert E., 2022. "Educational differences in mortality and hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    6. Adriana Lleras‐Muney, 2022. "Education and income gradients in longevity: The role of policy," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(1), pages 5-37, February.
    7. Bautista, María Angélica & González, Felipe & Martinez, Luis R. & Muñoz, Pablo & Prem, Mounu, 2020. "Does Higher Education Reduce Mortality? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Chile," SocArXiv 5s2px, Center for Open Science.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Avendano, Mauricio & de Coulon, Augustin & Nafilyan, Vahé, 2020. "Does longer compulsory schooling affect mental health? Evidence from a British reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    2. Albarrán, Pedro & Hidalgo-Hidalgo, Marisa & Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Iñigo, 2020. "Education and adult health: Is there a causal effect?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 249(C).
    3. Bautista, María Angélica & González, Felipe & Martinez, Luis R. & Muñoz, Pablo & Prem, Mounu, 2020. "Does Higher Education Reduce Mortality? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Chile," SocArXiv 5s2px, Center for Open Science.
    4. Titus J. Galama & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Hans van Kippersluis, 2018. "The Effect of Education on Health and Mortality: A Review of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hofmarcher, Thomas, 2021. "The effect of education on poverty: A European perspective," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    6. Jiang, Wei & Lu, Yi & Xie, Huihua, 2020. "Education and mental health: Evidence and mechanisms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 407-437.
    7. Michael Grossman, 2015. "The Relationship between Health and Schooling: What’s New?," NBER Working Papers 21609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Avendano, M.; de Coulon, A.; Nafilyan, V.;, 2017. "Does more education always improve mental health? Evidence from a British compulsory schooling reform," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/10, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    9. Janke, Katharina & Johnston, David W. & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2020. "The causal effect of education on chronic health conditions in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    10. Massimiliano Bratti & Elena Cottini & Paolo Ghinetti, 2022. "Education, health and health-related behaviors: Evidence from higher education expansion," DISCE - Working Papers del Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza def114, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    11. Grytten, Jostein & Skau, Irene, 2017. "The impact of education on the probability of receiving periodontal treatment. Causal effects measured by using the introduction of a school reform in Norway," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 128-136.
    12. Pedro Albarran Pérez & Marisa Hidalgo Hidalgo & Iñigo Iturbe-Ormaetxe Kortajarene, 2017. "Schooling and adult health: Can education overcome bad early-life conditions?," Working Papers. Serie AD 2017-09, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    13. Petter Lundborg & Carl Hampus Lyttkens & Paul Nystedt, 2016. "The Effect of Schooling on Mortality: New Evidence From 50,000 Swedish Twins," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(4), pages 1135-1168, August.
    14. Zigraiova, Diana & Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Novak, Jiri, 2021. "How puzzling is the forward premium puzzle? A meta-analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    15. Petter Lundborg, 0000. "The Health Returns to Education - What can we learn from Twins?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-027/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    16. Grytten, Jostein & Skau, Irene & Sørensen, Rune, 2020. "Who dies early? Education, mortality and causes of death in Norway," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 245(C).
    17. Cazachevici, Alina & Havranek, Tomas & Horvath, Roman, 2020. "Remittances and economic growth: A meta-analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    18. Raquel Fonseca & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Yuhui Zheng, 2020. "The effect of education on health: evidence from national compulsory schooling reforms," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 83-103, March.
    19. Hamad, Rita & Elser, Holly & Tran, Duy C. & Rehkopf, David H. & Goodman, Steven N., 2018. "How and why studies disagree about the effects of education on health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of compulsory schooling laws," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 168-178.
    20. Janke, Katharina & Johnston, David W. & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2018. "The Causal Effect of Education on Chronic Health Conditions," IZA Discussion Papers 11353, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Meta-Analysis in Economics

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:35:y:2021:i:1:p:71-105. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0950-0804 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0950-0804 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.