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Education and Health Knowledge: Evidence from UK Compulsory Schooling Reforms

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  • David W. Johnston
  • Grace Lordan
  • Michael A. Shields
  • Agne Suziedelyte

Abstract

We investigate if there is a causal link between education and health knowledge using data from the 1984/85 and 1991/92 waves of the UK Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS). Uniquely, the survey asks respondents what they think are the main causes of ten common health conditions, and we compare these answers to those given by medical professionals to form an index of health knowledge. For causal identification we use increases in the UK minimum school leaving age in 1947 (from 14 to 15) and 1972 (from 15 to 16) to provide exogenous variation in education. These reforms predominantly induced adolescents who would have left school to stay for one additionally mandated year. Naïve ordinary least squares estimates suggest that education significantly increases health knowledge, with a one-year increase in schooling increasing the health knowledge index by 15% of a standard deviation. In contrast, estimates from instrumental-variable models show that increased schooling due to the education reforms did not significantly affect health knowledge: a one-year increase in schooling is estimated to decrease the health knowledge index by 0.1% of a standard deviation. This main result is robust to numerous specification tests and alternative formulations of the health knowledge index. Further research is required to determine whether there is also no causal link between higher levels of education - such as post-school qualifications - and health knowledge.

Suggested Citation

  • David W. Johnston & Grace Lordan & Michael A. Shields & Agne Suziedelyte, 2014. "Education and Health Knowledge: Evidence from UK Compulsory Schooling Reforms," CEP Discussion Papers dp1297, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1297
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Setti Rais Ali & Paul Dourgnon & Lise Rochaix, 2018. "Social Capital or Education: What Matters Most to Cut Time to Diagnosis?," PSE Working Papers halshs-01703170, HAL.
    2. repec:eee:socmed:v:212:y:2018:i:c:p:168-178 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Hendrik Jürges & Sophie-Charlotte Meyer, 2017. "Educational differences in smoking: selection versus causation," Schumpeter Discussion Papers SDP17001, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
    4. Mustafa Özer & Jan Fidrmuc & Mehmet Ali Eryurt, 2017. "Does Maternal Education Affect Childhood Immunization Rates? Evidence from Turkey," CESifo Working Paper Series 6439, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. repec:eee:socmed:v:220:y:2019:i:c:p:379-386 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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).
    7. repec:spr:eujhec:v:20:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s10198-017-0950-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Avendano, M.; de Coulon, A.; Nafilyan, V.;, 2017. "Does more education always improve mental health? Evidence from a British compulsory schooling reform," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/10, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    9. Bijwaard, G.E.; & Jones, A.M.;, 2019. "Education and life-expectancy and how the relationship is mediated through changes in behaviour: a principal stratification approach for hazard rates," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 19/05, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; health; knowledge; compulsory schooling; causality;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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