DP8707 The Causal Effect of Education on Health: What is the Role of Health Behaviors?

Author(s): Giorgio Brunello, Margherita Fort, Nicole Schneeweis, Rudolf Winter-Ebmer
Publication Date: December 2011
Keyword(s): education, Europe, health, health behaviours
JEL(s): I1, I12, I21
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8707

We study the contribution of health-related behaviors to the health-education gradient by distinguishing between short-run and long-run mediating effects: while in the former only current or lagged behaviors are taken into account, in the latter we consider the entire history of behaviors. We use an empirical approach that addresses the endogeneity of education and behaviors in the health production function. Focusing on self-reported poor health as our health outcome, we find that education has a protective effect for European males and females aged 50+. We also find that the mediating effects of health behaviors--measured by smoking, drinking, exercising and the body mass index--account in the short run for 17% to 31% and in the long run for 23% to 45% of the entire effect of education on health, depending on gender.