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The impact of education on health knowledge


  • Altindag, Duha
  • Cannonier, Colin
  • Mocan, Naci


The theory on the demand for health suggests that schooling causes health because schooling increases the efficiency of health production. Alternatively, the allocative efficiency hypothesis argues that schooling alters the input mix chosen to produce health. This suggests that the more educated have more knowledge about the health production function and they have more health knowledge. This paper uses data from the 1997 and 2002 waves of the NLSY97 to conduct an investigation of the allocative efficiency hypothesis by analyzing whether education improves health knowledge. The survey design allows us to observe the increase in health knowledge of young adults after their level of schooling is increased by differential and plausibly exogenous amounts. Using nine different questions measuring health knowledge, we find weak evidence that an increase in education generates an improvement in health knowledge for those who ultimately attend college. For those with high school as the terminal degree, no relationship is found between education and health knowledge. These results imply that the allocative efficiency hypothesis may not be the primary reason for why schooling impacts health outcomes.

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  • Altindag, Duha & Cannonier, Colin & Mocan, Naci, 2011. "The impact of education on health knowledge," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 792-812, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:5:p:792-812

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Altindag, Duha & Cannonier, Colin & Mocan, Naci, 2011. "The impact of education on health knowledge," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 792-812, October.
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    4. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
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    6. Anna Aizer & Laura Stroud, 2010. "Education, Knowledge and the Evolution of Disparities in Health," NBER Working Papers 15840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Gabriella Conti & James Heckman & Sergio Urzua, 2010. "The Education-Health Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 234-238, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
    11. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
    12. Mark C. Berger & J. Paul Leigh, 1989. "Schooling, Self-Selection, and Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 433-455.
    13. Price, Joseph & Simon, Kosali, 2009. "Patient education and the impact of new medical research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1166-1174, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Güneş, Pınar Mine, 2015. "The role of maternal education in child health: Evidence from a compulsory schooling law," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-16.
    2. Naci Mocan & Duha Altindag, 2014. "Education, cognition, health knowledge, and health behavior," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 15(3), pages 265-279, April.
    3. Resul Cesur & Bahadir Dursun & Naci Mocan, 2014. "The Impact of Education on Health and Health Behavior in a Middle-Income, Low-Education Country," NBER Working Papers 20764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Altindag, Duha & Cannonier, Colin & Mocan, Naci, 2011. "The impact of education on health knowledge," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 792-812, October.
    5. Cuffe, H.E. & Harbaugh, W.T. & Lindo, J.M. & Musto, G. & Waddell, G.R., 2012. "Evidence on the efficacy of school-based incentives for healthy living," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1028-1036.
    6. Runu Bhakta & A. Ganesh Kumar, 2014. "Does parental education affect the impact of provision of health care on health status of children? - Evidence from India," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2014-036, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    7. Fletcher, Jason M. & Frisvold, David E., 2011. "College selectivity and young adult health behaviors," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 826-837, October.
    8. Carbone, Jared C. & Kverndokk, Snorre, 2014. "Individual investments in education and health," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2014:1, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
    9. Mocan, Naci & Raschke, Christian & Unel, Bulent, 2015. "The impact of mothers’ earnings on health inputs and infant health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 204-223.
    10. El-Osta, Hisham S., 2015. "Assessing the Impact of Health Insurance and Other Socioeconomic Factors on Inequality in Health Care Expenditures among Farm Households," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 44(1), April.
    11. Jorge M. Agüero & Prashant Bharadwaj, 2014. "Do the More Educated Know More about Health? Evidence from Schooling and HIV Knowledge in Zimbabwe," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 489-517.

    More about this item


    Schooling Health Education Teenagers Heart disease Smoking Pregnancy Drinking Alcohol addiction Health knowledge NLSY;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


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