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Does Compulsory Education Really Increase Life Satisfaction?


  • Andrew E. Clark

    (Paris School of Economics)

  • SeEun Jung

    (Department of Economics, Inha University)


This paper examines the impact of the 1972 British education reform on life satisfaction using 1996-2008 British Household Panel Survey data. The education reform increased compulsory education by one year for those who were born after the 1st of September 1957, yielding an exogenous change in education for the treated group. Contrary to other work, we find no evidence that a one-year rise in compulsory education increased life satisfaction, even though it is often estimated to increase income. Many of our estimates suggest a negative relationship: the positive life-satisfaction effect found in research using earlier data does not then seem to have endured.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark & SeEun Jung, 2017. "Does Compulsory Education Really Increase Life Satisfaction?," Inha University IBER Working Paper Series 2017-6, Inha University, Institute of Business and Economic Research, revised Jul 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:inh:wpaper:2017-6

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    Cited by:

    1. Clark, Andrew E. & Lee, Tom, 2021. "Early-life correlates of later-life well-being: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 360-368.
    2. C. P. Barrington-Leigh & Katja Lemermeyer, 2023. "A Public, Open, and Independently-Curated Database of Happiness Coefficients," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 1505-1531, April.
    3. Frijters, Paul & Clark, Andrew E. & Krekel, Christian & Layard, Richard, 2020. "A happy choice: wellbeing as the goal of government," Behavioural Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 126-165, July.
    4. Rémi Yin & Anthony Lepinteur & Andrew E Clark & Conchita d'Ambrosio, 2021. "Life Satisfaction and the Human Development Index Across the World," Working Papers halshs-03174513, HAL.
    5. Stutzer, Alois, 2020. "Happiness and public policy: a procedural perspective," Behavioural Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 210-225, July.
    6. C. O. Henriques & L. A. Lopez-Agudo & O. D. Marcenaro-Gutierrez & M. Luque, 2021. "Reaching Compromises in Workers’ Life Satisfaction: A Multiobjective Interval Programming Approach," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 207-239, January.

    More about this item


    Life Satisfaction; Education Reform; Compulsory Schooling; RDD; BHPS;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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