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Changes in compulsory schooling and the causal effect of education on health: Evidence from Germany

  • Kemptner, Daniel
  • Jürges, Hendrik
  • Reinhold, Steffen

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 but not necessarily with respect to health-related behavior.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 340-354

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:340-354
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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  1. Kenkel, D.S., 1988. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, And Schooling," Papers 10-88-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Steffen Reinhold & Hendrik Jürges, 2009. "Parental Income and Child Health in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 871, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2003. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence from the German Short School Years," CEPR Discussion Papers 4074, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2005. "Sex differences in morbidity and mortality," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 189-214, May.
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  8. Rodolfo Nayga, 2000. "Schooling, health knowledge and obesity," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(7), pages 815-822.
  9. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
  10. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2010. "Does Education Reduce the Risk of Hypertension? Estimating the Biomarker Effect of Compulsory Schooling in England," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 173-202.
  11. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2011. "Why Young Boys Stumble: Early Tracking, Age and Gender Bias in the German School System," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(4), pages 371-394, November.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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  15. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding Differences in Health Behaviors by Education," Scholarly Articles 5344195, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Hendrik Jürges & Eberhard Kruk & Steffen Reinhold, 2010. "The Effect of Compulsory Schooling on Health - Evidence from Biomarkers," CESifo Working Paper Series 3105, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. 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 223-55, March-Apr.
  20. 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).
  21. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  22. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding differences in health behaviors by education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, January.
  23. Pedro Carneiro & Claire Crawford & Alissa Goodman, 2007. "The Impact of Early Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills on Later Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0092, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
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