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Unobserved Heterogeneity Can Confound the Effect of Education on Mortality




Two opposing hypotheses were proposed to explain the life course pattern in the effect of education on mortality: “cumulative advantage,” where the education effect becomes stronger with age, and “age-as-leveler,” where the effect becomes weaker in old age. Most empirical studies bring evidence for the latter hypothesis, but the observed convergence of mortality patterns could be an artifact of selective mortality due to unobserved heterogeneity. A simulation shows that unobserved heterogeneity can bias the estimated effect of education downward so that the cohort-average effect of education decreases in old age regardless of the shape of the underlying subject-specific trajectory.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Zajacova & Noreen Goldman & German Rodriguez, 2009. "Unobserved Heterogeneity Can Confound the Effect of Education on Mortality," Mathematical Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 153-173.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:mpopst:v:16:y:2009:i:2:p:153-173 DOI: 10.1080/08898480902790528

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Lambrecht, Stephane & Michel, Philippe & Vidal, Jean-Pierre, 2005. "Public pensions and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(5), pages 1261-1281, July.
    3. Stéphane Lambrecht & Philippe Michel & Emmanuel Thibault, 2006. "Capital Accumulation and Fiscal Policy in an OLG Model with Family Altruism," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 8(3), pages 465-486, August.
    4. BRECHET, Thierry & LAMBRECHT, Stéphane, 2006. "Intertemporal equilibrium with a resource bequest motive," CORE Discussion Papers 2006022, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Zajacova & Sarah Burgard, 2013. "Healthier, Wealthier, and Wiser: A Demonstration of Compositional Changes in Aging Cohorts Due to Selective Mortality," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(3), pages 311-324, June.
    2. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, 2014. "Mortality Deceleration and Mortality Selection: Three Unexpected Implications of a Simple Model," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(1), pages 51-71, February.
    3. Virginia Zarulli, 2016. "Unobserved Heterogeneity of Frailty in the Analysis of Socioeconomic Differences in Health and Mortality," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(1), pages 55-72, February.
    4. Zajacova, Anna & Hummer, Robert A., 2009. "Gender differences in education effects on all-cause mortality for white and black adults in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 529-537, August.
    5. Goldman, Noreen & Turra, Cassio M. & Rosero-Bixby, Luis & Weir, David & Crimmins, Eileen, 2011. "Do biological measures mediate the relationship between education and health: A comparative study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 307-315, January.


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