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Health, Income, and the Timing of Education Among Military Retirees

  • Ryan D. Edwards

There is a large and robust correlation between adult health and education, part of which likely reflects causality running from education into health. Less clear is whether education obtained later in life is as valuable for health as are earlier years of schooling, or whether education raises health directly or through income or wealth. In this paper, I examine how the timing of educational attainment is important for adult health outcomes, income, and wealth, in order to illuminate these issues. Among military retirees, a subpopulation with large variation in the final level and timing of educational attainment, the health returns to a year of education are diminishing in age at acquisition, a pattern that is less pronounced for income and wealth. In the full sample, the marginal effects on the probability of fair or poor health at age 55 of a year of schooling acquired before, during, and after a roughly 25-year military career are -0.025, -0.016, and -0.006, revealing a decline of about half a percentage point each decade. These results suggest that education improves health outcomes more through fostering a lifelong accumulation of healthy behaviors and habits, and less through augmenting the flow of income or the stock of physical wealth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15778.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15778
Note: AG ED HE
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  1. Thomas Gall & Patrick Legros & Andrew Newman, 2008. "The timing of education," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/101648, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  3. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Introduction to "Economic Aspects of Health"," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist, 1998. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 249-288, March.
  5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
  6. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
  7. Fuchs, Victor R. (ed.), 1982. "Economic Aspects of Health," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226267852, April.
  8. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Economic Aspects of Health," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fuch82-1.
  9. Carlos Dobkin & Reza Shabani, 2009. "The Health Effects Of Military Service: Evidence From The Vietnam Draft," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 69-80, 01.
  10. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ehrlich, Isaac & Chuma, Hiroyuki, 1990. "A Model of the Demand for Longevity and the Value of Life Extension," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 761-82, August.
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