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Intergenerational Effects of Education on Risky Health Behaviours and Long-Term Health

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  • Mathias Huebener

Abstract

This paper estimates the causal effects of parental education on their children's risky health behaviours and health status. I study the intergenerational effects of a compulsory schooling reform in Germany after World War II. Implemented across federal states at different points in time, the reform increased the minimum number of school years from eight to nine. Instrumental variable estimates and difference-in-differences estimates reveal that increases in maternal schooling reduce children's probability to smoke and to be overweight in adolescence. The effects persist into adulthood, reducing chronic conditions that often result from unhealthy lifestyles. No such effects can be identified for paternal education. Increased investments in children's education and improvements in their peer environment early in life are important for explaining the effects. Changes in family income, family stability, fertility and parental health-related behaviours are less relevant empirically. The intergenerational effects of education on health and health-related behaviours exceed the direct effects. Studies neglecting the intergenerational perspective substantially understate the full causal effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathias Huebener, 2017. "Intergenerational Effects of Education on Risky Health Behaviours and Long-Term Health," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1709, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1709
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    Cited by:

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    2. Bhashkar Mazumder & Maria Fernanda Rosales-Rueda & Margaret Triyana, 2023. "Social Interventions, Health, and Well-Being: The Long-Term and Intergenerational Effects of a School Construction Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 58(4), pages 1097-1140.
    3. Mara Barschkett, 2022. "Age-specific Effects of Early Daycare on Children's Health," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 2028, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Everding, Jakob, 2019. "Heterogeneous spillover effects of children's education on parental mental health," hche Research Papers 18, University of Hamburg, Hamburg Center for Health Economics (hche).
    5. Cornelissen, Thomas & Dang, Thang, 2022. "The multigenerational impacts of educational expansion: Evidence from Vietnam," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    6. Baltagi, Badi H. & Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso & Karatas, Haci M., 2023. "The effect of higher education on Women's obesity and smoking: Evidence from college openings in Turkey," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    7. Mussida, Chiara & Sciulli, Dario, 2022. "Parental background and the use of dirty fuels at home: An exploratory study of Bangladesh," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    8. Huebener, Mathias & Spieß, C. Katharina, 2021. "Familien im Fokus der Bundestagswahl: Ein Bekenntnis zur Systemrelevanz von Familien," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 31, pages 101-107.
    9. Huebener, Mathias, 2019. "Life expectancy and parental education," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 232(C), pages 351-365.
    10. Li, Yaoyue & Wang, Guixin & Li, Guofeng, 2021. "Educational attainment of offspring and obesity among older adults in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 286(C).
    11. Mara Barschkett, 2022. "Age-specific Effects of Early Daycare on Children’s Health," Berlin School of Economics Discussion Papers 0005, Berlin School of Economics.
    12. Barschkett, Mara, 2023. "Age-specific Effects of Early Daycare on Children's Health," VfS Annual Conference 2023 (Regensburg): Growth and the "sociale Frage" 277588, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    Keywords

    Parental education; returns to education; smoking; overweight; compulsory schooling;
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    JEL classification:

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

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