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Does more schooling improve health outcomes and health related behaviors? Evidence from U.K. twins

Vikesh Amin, Jere Behrman and Tim D. Spector

Economics of Education Review, 2013, vol. 35, issue C, 134-148

Abstract: Several recent studies using instrumental variables based on changes in compulsory school-leaving age laws have estimated the causal effect of schooling on health outcomes and health-related behaviors in the U.K. Despite using the same identification strategy and similar datasets, no consensus has been reached. We contribute to the literature by providing results for the U.K. using a different research design and a different dataset. Specifically, we estimate the effect of schooling on health outcomes (obesity and physical health) and health-related behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption and exercise) for women through within-MZ twins estimates using the TwinsUK database. For physical health, alcohol consumption and exercise, the within-MZ twins estimates are uninformative about whether there is a causal effect. However, we find (1) that the significant association between schooling and smoking status is due to unobserved endowments that are correlated with schooling and smoking and (2) there is some indication that more schooling reduces the body mass index for women, even once these unobserved endowments have been controlled for.

Keywords: Schooling; Health; Twins fixed-effects (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I11 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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