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Education and health knowledge: evidence from UK compulsory schooling reforms

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

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.

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  • Johnston, David W. & Lordan, Grace & Shields, Michael A. & Suziedelyte, Agne, 2014. "Education and health knowledge: evidence from UK compulsory schooling reforms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60445, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:60445
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/60445/
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    Cited by:

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    3. Setti Rais Ali & Paul Dourgnon & Lise Rochaix, 2018. "Social Capital or Education: What Matters Most to Cut Time to Diagnosis?," Working Papers halshs-01703170, HAL.
    4. Stephanie von Hinke, 2022. "Education, Dietary Intakes and Exercise," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 84(1), pages 214-240, February.
    5. 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.
    6. Hamad, Rita & Elser, Holly & Tran, Duy C. & Rehkopf, David H. & Goodman, Steven N., 2018. "How and why studies disagree about the effects of education on health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of compulsory schooling laws," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 168-178.
    7. Janke, Katharina & Johnston, David W. & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2020. "The causal effect of education on chronic health conditions in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    8. Jürges Hendrik & Meyer Sophie-Charlotte, 2020. "Educational Differences in Smoking: Selection Versus Causation," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 240(4), pages 467-492, August.
    9. Mustafa Özer & Jan Fidrmuc & Mehmet Ali Eryurt, 2017. "Does Maternal Education Affect Childhood Immunization Rates? Evidence from Turkey," CESifo Working Paper Series 6439, CESifo.
    10. Avendano, Mauricio & de Coulon, Augustin & Nafilyan, Vahé, 2020. "Does longer compulsory schooling affect mental health? Evidence from a British reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    11. Sylwia Kałucka & Dorota Kaleta & Teresa Makowiec-Dabrowska, 2019. "Prevalence of Dietary Behavior and Determinants of Quality of Diet among Beneficiaries of Government Welfare Assistance in Poland," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 16(3), pages 1-18, February.
    12. Courtin, Emilie & Nafilyan, Vahe & Avendano, Mauricio & Meneton, Pierre & Berkman, Lisa F. & Goldberg, Marcel & Zins, Marie & Dowd, Jennifer B., 2019. "Longer schooling but not better off? A quasi-experimental study of the effect of compulsory schooling on biomarkers in France," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 220(C), pages 379-386.
    13. 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.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; health; knowledge; compulsory schooling; causality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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