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Does more education lead to better health habits? Evidence from the school reforms in Australia

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  • Li, Jinhu
  • Powdthavee, Nattavudh

Abstract

The current study provides new empirical evidence on the causal effect of education on health-related behaviors by exploiting historical changes in the compulsory schooling laws in Australia. Since World War II, Australian states increased the minimum school leaving age from 14 to 15 in different years. Using differences in the laws regarding minimum school leaving age across different cohorts and across different states as a source of exogenous variation in education, we show that more education improves people's diets and their tendency to engage in more regular exercise and drinking moderately, but not necessarily their tendency to avoid smoking and to engage in more preventive health checks. The improvements in health behaviors are also reflected in the estimated positive effect of education on some health outcomes. Our results are robust to alternative measures of education and different estimation methods.

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  • Li, Jinhu & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2015. "Does more education lead to better health habits? Evidence from the school reforms in Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 83-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:127:y:2015:i:c:p:83-91
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.07.021
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    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. Sarah Dahmann & Silke Anger, 2014. "The Impact of Education on Personality: Evidence from a German High School Reform," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 658, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Dang, Thang, 2017. "Does the More Educated Utilize More Health Care Services? Evidence from Vietnam Using a Regression Discontinuity Design," MPRA Paper 77641, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Setti Rais Ali & Paul Dourgnon & Lise Rochaix, 2018. "Social Capital or Education: What Matters Most to Cut Time to Diagnosis?," Working Papers halshs-01703170, HAL.
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    10. Thang Dang, 2018. "Do the more educated utilize more health care services? Evidence from Vietnam using a regression discontinuity design," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 277-299, September.
    11. Ma, Yuanyuan & Nolan, Anne & Smith, James P., 2018. "The value of education to health: Evidence from Ireland," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 14-25.
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    13. 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).
    14. Shir, Nadav & Nikolaev, Boris N. & Wincent, Joakim, 2019. "Entrepreneurship and well-being: The role of psychological autonomy, competence, and relatedness," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 1-1.
    15. Wuhua Yao & Debu Gao & Pengfei Sheng, 2019. "The impact of education on healthcare expenditure in China: quantity or quality," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(14), pages 1192-1195, August.
    16. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2021. "Education and pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours: A nonparametric regression discontinuity analysis of a major schooling reform in England and Wales," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    17. de New, Sonja C. & Schurer, Stefanie & Leung, Felix, 2015. "Testing the Validity of Item Non-Response as a Proxy for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 8874, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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