Gain in Life Expectancy Associated with Higher Education

Govert Bijwaard, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Frans W. A. van Poppel, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Peter Ekamper, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
L.H. Lumey, Columbia University

Many studies show large differences in mortality across measures of education. However, recent results deriving from natural experiments in education suggest that the causal effect of education on health is small. This implies an important role for confounding factors, such as cognitive ability. Gains in life-expectancy associated with increasing education levels, should therefore be estimated taking differences in measured intelligence and socio-economic background into account. We disentangle the gains of education, cognitive ability and socio-economic background on mortality for men in the Netherlands aged 18-63. We obtain the `treatment’ effect of education and the selection effect due to latent cognitive ability and due to observed socio-economic background. The data used are selected data from military recruits born in 1944-1947 in The Netherlands. Results: Higher education levels were associated with higher life-expectancy. Although the lower mortality is partly explained by selection into higher education levels of individuals.

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Presented in Session 203: Education and Health Inequalities