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

Listed author(s):
  • Li, Jinhu
  • Powdthavee, Nattavudh

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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 127 (2015)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 83-91

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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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