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The Impact of Childhood Health on Adult Educational Attainment: Evidence from Modern Mandatory School Vaccination Laws



This paper examines the impact of post-neonatal childhood health on adult educational attainment using evidence from mandatory school vaccination laws in the U.S. After the development of a number of key vaccines, states began to require proof of immunization against certain infectious diseases for children entering school. I exploit the staggered implementation of the laws across states to identify both the short-run impacts on child health and long-term effects on educational attainment. First, I show that the mandatory school vaccination laws were effective in reducing the incidence rates of the targeted diseases. Next, I find sizable and positive effects on educational outcomes as measured by high school completion and years of schooling. The effect on educational attainment is twice as large for non-whites relative to whites.

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  • Dara N. Lee, 2012. "The Impact of Childhood Health on Adult Educational Attainment: Evidence from Modern Mandatory School Vaccination Laws," Working Papers 1202, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 29 Oct 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:1202

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Y. Chay & Jonathan Guryan & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2009. "Birth Cohort and the Black-White Achievement Gap: The Roles of Access and Health Soon After Birth," NBER Working Papers 15078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Peter Hinrichs, 2010. "The effects of the National School Lunch Program on education and health," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 479-505.
    3. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding differences in health behaviors by education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernal, Raquel, 2015. "The impact of a vocational education program for childcare providers on children's well-being," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 165-183.
    2. Cristia, Julian & Prado, Ariadna GarcĂ­a & Peluffo, Cecilia, 2015. "The Impact of Contracting in and Contracting out Basic Health Services: The Guatemalan Experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 215-227.
    3. Julian Cristia & William N. Evans & Beomsoo Kim, 2015. "Improving the Health Coverage of the Rural Poor: Does Contracting-Out Mobile Medical Teams Work?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(3), pages 247-261, March.

    More about this item


    school vaccinations; morbidity; health; educational attainment;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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