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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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  9. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen & von Wachter, Till, 2005. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5105, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  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. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Damon Clark & Heather Royer, 2010. "The Effect of Education on Adult Health and Mortality: Evidence from Britain," NBER Working Papers 16013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. Albouy, Valerie & Lequien, Laurent, 2009. "Does compulsory education lower mortality?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 155-168, January.
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  23. 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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