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Effects of Compulsory Schooling on Mortality – Evidence from Sweden

  • Martin Fischer

    ()

  • Martin Karlsson
  • Therese Nilsson

Theoretically, there are several reasons to expect education to have a positive effect on health, and empirical research suggests that education can be an important health determinant. However, it has not yet been established whether education and health are indeed causally-related, and the effects found in previous studies may be partially attributable to methodological weaknesses. Moreover, existing evidence on the education-health relationship using information of schooling reforms for identication generally uses information from fairly recent reforms implying that health outcomes are observed only over a limited time period. This paper examines the effect of education on mortality using information on a national roll-out of a reform leading to one extra year of compulsory schooling in Sweden. In 1936, the national government made a seventh school year compulsory; however, the implementation was decided at the school district level, and the reform was implemented over a period of 12 years. Taking advantage of the variation in the timing of the implementation across school districts by using county-level proportions of reformed districts, census data and administrative mortality data, we find that the extra compulsory school year reduced mortality. In fact, the mortality reduction is discernible already before the age of 30 and then grows in magnitude until the age of 55–60.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0441.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0441
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  1. Meghir, Costas & Palme, Mårten & Simeonova, Emilia, 2012. "Education, Health and Mortality: Evidence from a Social Experiment," Research Papers in Economics 2012:4, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Holmlund, Helena, 2007. "A Researcher's Guide to the Swedish Compulsory School Reform," Working Paper Series 9/2007, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  3. Gathmann, Christina & Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen, 2012. "Compulsory Schooling Reforms, Education and Mortality in Twentieth Century Europe," Working Papers 12-04, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
  4. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 12352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hans van Kippersluis, & Owen O’Donnell & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2011. "Long-Run Returns to Education: Does Schooling Lead to an Extended Old Age?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(4), pages 695-721.
  6. Costas Meghir & MÃ¥rten Palme, 2004. "Educational reform, ability and family background," IFS Working Papers W04/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Silles, Mary A., 2009. "The causal effect of education on health: Evidence from the United Kingdom," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 122-128, February.
  8. Kemptner, Daniel & Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen, 2010. "Changes in Compulsory Schooling and the Causal Effect of Education on Health: Evidence from Germany," MEA discussion paper series 10200, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  9. Albouy, Valerie & Lequien, Laurent, 2009. "Does compulsory education lower mortality?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 155-168, January.
  10. Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen & Salm, Martin, 2011. "Does schooling affect health behavior? Evidence from the educational expansion in Western Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 862-872, October.
  11. Arendt, Jacob Nielsen, 2008. "In sickness and in health--Till education do us part: Education effects on hospitalization," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 161-172, April.
  12. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  13. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
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