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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.

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Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 09186.

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Date of creation: 21 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:09186
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