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Education and Health: The Role of Cognitive Ability

  • Govert Bijwaard
  • Hans van Kippersluis
  • Justus Veenman

We aim to disentangle the relative contributions of (i) cognitive ability, and (ii) education on health and mortality using a structural equation model suggested by Conti et al. (2010). We extend their model by allowing for a duration dependent variable, and an ordinal educational variable. Data come from a Dutch cohort born around 1940, including detailed measures of cognitive ability and family background at age 12. The data are subsequently linked to the mortality register 1995-2011, such that we observe mortality between ages 55 and 75. The results suggest that the treatment effect of education (i.e. the effect of entering secondary school as opposed to leaving school after primary education) is positive and amounts to a 4 years gain in life expectancy, on average. Decomposition results suggest that the raw survival differences between educational groups are about equally split between a ‘treatment effect’of education, and a ‘selection effect’ on basis of cognitive ability and family background.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4207.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4207
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  1. Gathmann, Christina & Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen, 2012. "Compulsory Schooling Reforms, Education and Mortality in Twentieth Century Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 6403, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Economic Aspects of Health," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fuch82-1, October.
  3. Gabriella Conti & James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua, 2010. "Early endowments, education, and health," Working Papers 2011-001, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  4. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Introduction to "Economic Aspects of Health"," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert Kaestner, 2009. "Adolescent Cognitive and Non-cognitive Correlates of Adult Health," NBER Working Papers 14924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. repec:dgr:uvatin:20120070 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Gabriella Conti & James Heckman & Sergio Urzua, 2010. "The Education-Health Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 234-38, May.
  8. Arendt, Jacob Nielsen, 2005. "Does education cause better health? A panel data analysis using school reforms for identification," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 149-160, April.
  9. Hans van Kippersluis, & Owen O’Donnell & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2011. "Long-Run Returns to Education: Does Schooling Lead to an Extended Old Age?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(4), pages 695-721.
  10. Meghir, Costas & Palme, Mårten & Simeonova, Emilia, 2012. "Education, Health and Mortality: Evidence from a Social Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 6462, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Braakmann, Nils, 2011. "The causal relationship between education, health and health related behaviour: Evidence from a natural experiment in England," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 753-763, July.
  12. Hartog, Joop & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1998. "Health, wealth and happiness: why pursue a higher education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 245-256, June.
  13. James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Sergio Urzua & Gregory Veramendi, 2010. "The effects of educational choices on labor market, health, and social outcomes," Working Papers 2011-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  14. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  15. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
  16. 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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