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The return to education in terms of wealth and health

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  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

This study presents a new view on the association between education and longevity. In contrast to the earlier literature, which focused on inefficient health behavior of the less educated, we investigate the extent to which the education gradient can be explained by fully rational and efficient behavior of all social strata. Specifically, we consider a life-cycle model in which the loss of body functionality, which eventually leads to death, can be accelerated by unhealthy behavior and delayed through health expenditure. Individuals are heterogeneous with respect to their return to education. The proposed theory rationalizes why individuals equipped with a higher return to education chose more education as well as a healthier lifestyle. When calibrated for the average male US citizen, the model motivates about 50% percent of the observable education gradient by idiosyncratic returns to education, with causality running from education to longevity. The theory also explains why compulsory schooling has comparatively small effects on longevity and why the gradient gets larger over time through improvements in medical technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Strulik, Holger, 2016. "The return to education in terms of wealth and health," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 293, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:293
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    Cited by:

    1. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-90.
    2. Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2018. "Hyperbolic discounting can be good for your health," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 44-57.
    3. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2019. "Anticipation of deteriorating health and information avoidance," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 365, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    4. Sanchez-Romero, Miguel & Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Alexia, 2019. "Optimal time allocation in active retirement," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 02/2019, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    5. repec:eee:jeborg:v:158:y:2019:i:c:p:269-287 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Böhm, Sebastian & Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2017. "R&D-driven medical progess, health care costs, and the future of human longevity," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 325, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    7. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Smoking kills: An economic theory of addiction, health deficit accumulation, and longevity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1-12.
    8. Johannes Schuenemann & Holger Strulik & Timo Trimborn, . "The Marriage Gap: Optimal Aging and Death in Partnerships," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Hansen, Casper Worm & Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Physiological Aging around the World and Economic Growth," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 375, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    10. Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Life expectancy and education: evidence from the cardiovascular revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 421-450, December.
    11. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "I shouldn't eat this donut: Self-control, body weight, and health in a life cycle model," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 360, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    12. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "An economic theory of depression and its impact on health behavior and longevity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 269-287.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health inequality; schooling; aging; longevity; health expenditure; unhealthy behavior; smoking; value of life;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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