IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Schooling Affect Health Behavior? Evidence from Educational Expansion in Western Germany


  • Steffen Reinhold

    () (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))


During the postwar period German states pursued policies to increase the share of young Germans obtaining a university entrance diploma (Abitur) by building more academic track schools, but the timing of educational expansion differed between states. This creates exogenous variation in the availability of higher education, which allows estimating the causal effect of education on health behaviors. Using the number of academic track schools in a state as an instrumental variable for years of schooling, we investigate the causal effect of schooling on health behavior such as smoking and related outcomes such as obesity. We find large negative effects of education on smoking. These effects can mostly be attributed to reductions in starting rates rather than increases in quitting rates. We find no causal effect of education on reduced overweight and obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Steffen Reinhold, 2009. "Does Schooling Affect Health Behavior? Evidence from Educational Expansion in Western Germany," MEA discussion paper series 09186, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:09186

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schwarze, Johannes, 1996. "How Income Inequality Changed in Germany following Reunification: An Empirical Analysis Using Decomposable Inequality Measures," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(1), pages 1-11, March.
    2. Bach, Stefan & Corneo, Giacomo & Steiner, Viktor, 2007. "From Bottom to Top: The Entire Distribution of Market Income in Germany, 1992-2001," CEPR Discussion Papers 6251, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Martin Biewen, 2005. "The Covariance Structure of East and West German Incomes and its Implications for the Persistence of Poverty and Inequality," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 6(4), pages 445-469, November.
    4. Huggett, Mark & Ventura, Gustavo & Yaron, Amir, 2006. "Human capital and earnings distribution dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 265-290, March.
    5. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri & Luigi Pistaferri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Cross Sectional Facts for Macroeconomists," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 1-14, January.
    6. Biewen, Martin, 2000. "Income Inequality in Germany during the 1980s and 1990s," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 1-19, March.
    7. Markus M. Grabka & Joachim R. Frick, 2008. "Schrumpfende Mittelschicht: Anzeichen einer dauerhaften Polarisierung der verfügbaren Einkommen?," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 75(10), pages 101-108.
    8. Bayer, Christian & Juessen, Falko, 2009. "The Life-Cycle and the Business-Cycle of Wage Risk: A Cross-Country Comparison," IZA Discussion Papers 4402, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Sinn, Gerlinde & Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1992. "Kaltstart. Volkswirtschaftliche Aspekte der Deutschen Vereinigung," Monograph, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, edition 2, number urn:isbn:9783161459429.
    10. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    11. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
    12. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881.
    13. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2004. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 1-32, January.
    14. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "Two Views of Inequality Over the Life Cycle," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 765-775, 04/05.
    15. Martin Biewen, 2001. "Measuring the Effects of Socio-Economic Variables on the Income Distribution: An Application to the East German Transition Process," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 185-190, February.
    16. Giersch,Herbert & Paqué,Karl-Heinz & Schmieding,Holger, 1994. "The Fading Miracle," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521358699, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Etilé, Fabrice & Jones, Andrew M., 2011. "Schooling and smoking among the baby boomers - An evaluation of the impact of educational expansion in France," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 811-831, July.
    2. Georgia S. Papoutsi & Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., 2013. "The Causes Of Childhood Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 743-767, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:09186. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Henning Frankenberger). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.