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The Causal Effect of Education on Health: What is the Role of Health Behaviors?

  • Giorgio Brunello
  • Margherita Fort
  • Nichole Schneeweis
  • Rudolf Winter-Ebmer

We study the contribution of health-related behaviors to the health-education gradient by distinguishing between short-run and long-run mediating effects: while in the former only current or lagged behaviors are taken into account, in the latter we consider the entire history of behaviors. We use an empirical approach that addresses the endogeneity of education and behaviors in the health production function. Focusing on self-reported poor health as our health outcome, we find that education has a protective effect for European males and females aged 50+. We also find that the mediating effects of health behaviors - measured by smoking, drinking, exercising and the body mass index - account in the short run for 17% to 31% and in the long run for 23% to 45% of the entire effect of education on health, depending on gender.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2011-17.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision: Nov 2011
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2011_17
Contact details of provider: Postal: NRN Labor Economics and the Welfare State, c/o Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz
Phone: +43-732-2468-8216
Fax: +43-732-2468-8217
Web page: http://www.labornrn.at/
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  1. Fort, Margherita & Schneeweis, Nicole & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2011. "More Schooling, More Children: Compulsory Schooling Reforms and Fertility in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 8609, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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