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Education and mental health: Evidence and mechanisms

Wei Jiang, Yi Lu () and Huihua Xie

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2020, vol. 180, issue C, 407-437

Abstract: This paper investigates how education affects mental health outcomes by exploiting the compulsory schooling laws implemented in the mid-1980s in China. The laws generated dramatic kinks with small jumps in educational attainment across cohorts. Using a regression probability jump and kink design, our results show that one year of schooling reduces mental health disorders by 0.09 standard deviations. Better-educated individuals are significantly less likely to have felt depressed, nervous or agitated in the past month and less likely to feel hopeless about the future, that everything is difficult or that life is meaningless. The positive effects of education on mental health are more profound for females and individuals from rural areas. Our mechanism analysis suggests that education-induced resources, cognitive skills, and social integration play significant roles in the effects of education on mental health outcomes in the long run; in total, they can explain more than 60% of the education gradient.

Keywords: Education; Mental health; Compulsory schooling laws; Regression probability jump and kink design; Mechanisms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I21 I28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.09.032

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:180:y:2020:i:c:p:407-437