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Health Disparities Across Education: The Role of Differential Reporting Error

John Cawley () and Anna Choi

No 21317, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: One of the most robust findings in health economics is that higher-educated individuals tend to be in better health. This paper tests whether health disparities across education are to some extent due to differences in reporting error across education. We test this hypothesis using data from the pooled National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Continuous for 1999-2012, which include both self-reports and objective verification for an extensive set of health behaviors and conditions, including smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. We find that college graduates are more likely to give false negative reports of obesity and high total cholesterol; one possible explanation for this is social desirability bias. However, college graduates are also significantly less likely to give false positive reports of smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Because there are far more truly negative people (who are less likely to give a false positive report) than truly positive people (who are more likely to give a false negative report), we find that college graduates report their health significantly more accurately overall.

JEL-codes: I1 I12 I14 I20 I24 I3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015-07
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Published as Anna Choi & John Cawley, 2018. "Health disparities across education: The role of differential reporting error," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(3), pages 1-29, March.

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Journal Article: Health disparities across education: The role of differential reporting error (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Health Disparities Across Education: The Role of Differential Reporting Error (2015) Downloads
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