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The Impact of Education on Health Outcomes and Behaviors in a Middle-Income, Low-Education Country

Bahadır Dursun, Resul Cesur and Naci Mocan

Economics & Human Biology, 2018, vol. 31, issue C, 94-114

Abstract: Although the impact of education on health is important for public policy everywhere, the overwhelming majority of research identifying the health returns to education has focused on developed countries. We use data from multiple waves of nationally-representative Health and Tobacco Surveys in Turkey, and exploit an education reform that increased the mandatory years of schooling from 5 to 8 years in 1997. Using exposure to the reform as an instrument for completing at least eight years of schooling, we examine the impact of education on health indicators and smoking among young adults. We find that extending schooling on this margin impacts men and women differently. Our results indicate that while a one-year of extra schooling increases the likelihood of being obese among males by 9.9 percentage points, the same increase in schooling improves the probability of women being in the healthy weight range by 15.5 percentage points. Consistent with this result, an extra year of education increases women’s propensity to self-evaluate their health as excellent by 4.3 percentage points. Additional analyses reveal that education makes men (but not women) more likely to spend time on computers, using the internet, and to spend time on social media, suggesting that differential time allocation between men and women, triggered by enhanced education, may be a mechanism behind the differential results between the sexes. Education has no impact on smoking for men or women regardless of the measure of smoking.

Keywords: Compulsory schooling; Health outcomes; Health behaviors; BMI; Obesity; Smoking (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2018.07.004

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