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Does more education always improve mental health? Evidence from a British compulsory schooling reform

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  • Avendano, M.; de Coulon, A.; Nafilyan, V.;

Abstract

In this paper, we test whether education has a causal effect on mental health by exploiting a compulsory schooling reform in 1972, which raised the minimum school leaving age from 15 to 16 years old in Great Britain. Using a regression discontinuity design, we provide robust evidence that although the reform increased educational attainment, it also increased the prevalence of depression and other mental health conditions in adulthood. Our results do not imply that more schooling per se leads to poorer mental health, but rather suggest that forcing low achieving teenagers to remain in an academic environment may have long-term unintended consequences on their mental health.

Suggested Citation

  • Avendano, M.; de Coulon, A.; Nafilyan, V.;, 2017. "Does more education always improve mental health? Evidence from a British compulsory schooling reform," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/10, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:17/10
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Everding, Jakob, 2019. "Heterogeneous spillover effects of children's education on parental mental health," hche Research Papers 2019/18, University of Hamburg, Hamburg Center for Health Economics (hche).
    2. Amin, Vikesh & Behrman, Jere R. & Fletcher, Jason M. & Flores, Carlos A. & Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso & Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2019. "Mental Health, Schooling Attainment and Polygenic Scores: Are There Significant Gene-Environment Associations?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 362, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    3. Davies, Neil & Dickson, Matt & Smith, George Davey & Windmeijer, Frank & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2019. "The Causal Effects of Education on Adult Health, Mortality and Income: Evidence from Mendelian Randomization and the Raising of the School Leaving Age," IZA Discussion Papers 12192, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Courtin, Emilie & Nafilyan, Vahe & Avendano, Mauricio & Meneton, Pierre & Berkman, Lisa F. & Goldberg, Marcel & Zins, Marie & Dowd, Jennifer B., 2019. "Longer schooling but not better off? A quasi-experimental study of the effect of compulsory schooling on biomarkers in France," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 220(C), pages 379-386.
    5. Janke, Katharina & Johnston, David W. & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2018. "The Causal Effect of Education on Chronic Health Conditions," IZA Discussion Papers 11353, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mental health; education; compulsory schooling; UK;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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