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Understanding the Mechanisms Linking College Education with Longevity

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  • Kai Hong

    (New York University)

  • Peter Savelyev

    (The College of William & Mary)

  • Kegon Teng Kok Tan

    (University of Rochester)

Abstract

We go beyond estimating the effect of college attainment on longevity by uncovering the mechanisms behind this effect while controlling for latent skills and unobserved heterogeneity. We decompose the effect with respect to a large set of potential mechanisms, including health behaviors, lifestyles, earnings, work conditions, and health at the start of the risk period (1993–2017). Our estimates are based on the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study and show that the effect of education on longevity is well explained by observed mechanisms. Furthermore, we find that for women, the positive effect of education on longevity has been historically masked by the negative effect of education on marriage. An adjustment for the relationship between education and marriage based on data for more recent cohorts increases the explained effect of education on longevity for women. We discuss the implications for policies aimed at improving health and longevity and reducing health inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Kai Hong & Peter Savelyev & Kegon Teng Kok Tan, 2020. "Understanding the Mechanisms Linking College Education with Longevity," Working Papers 2020-022, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2020-022
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter A. Savelyev & Kegon T. K. Tan, 2019. "Socioemotional Skills, Education, and Health-Related Outcomes of High-Ability Individuals," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 5(2), pages 250-280, Spring.
    2. Peter Savelyev & Benjamin Ward & Bob Krueger & Matthew McGue, 2020. "Health Endowments, Schooling Allocation in the Family, and Longevity: Evidence from US Twins," Working Papers 2020-040, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Peter A. Savelyev, 2014. "Psychological Skills, Education, and Longevity of High-Ability Individuals," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 14-00007, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    4. Abel Brodeur & David Gray & Anik Islam & Suraiya Bhuiyan, 2021. "A literature review of the economics of COVID‐19," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 1007-1044, September.
    5. Bello, Piera & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2021. "Education and COVID-19 excess mortality," GLO Discussion Paper Series 978, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Prakash, Navendu & Srivastava, Bhavya & Singh, Shveta & Sharma, Seema & Jain, Sonali, 2022. "Effectiveness of social distancing interventions in containing COVID-19 incidence: International evidence using Kalman filter," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).
    7. Atticus Bolyard & Peter Savelyev, 2021. "Understanding the Educational Attainment Polygenic Score and its Interactions with SES in Determining Health in Young Adulthood," Working Papers 2021-026, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    college education; longevity; mechanisms; health behaviors; lifestyle;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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