Education and Health Over the Life Cycle

Published in: Economics of Education Review, Volume 76 (June 2020). doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2020.101982

Posted on RAND.org on January 26, 2021

by Robert Kaestner, Cuiping Schiman, Jason M. Ward

Read More

Access further information on this document at Economics of Education Review

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

There is little theoretical and empirical research on the effects of education on health over the life cycle. In this article, we extend the Grossman (1972) model of the demand for health and use the extended model to analyze the effect of education on health at different ages. The main conclusion from our model is that it is unlikely that the relationship between education and health will be constant over the life cycle and that education is likely to have little effect on health at younger ages when there is little depreciation of the health stock. We also present an extensive empirical analysis documenting the association between education and health over the life cycle. Results of our analysis suggest that in terms of mortality, education has little effect until age 60, but then lowers the hazard rate of death. For measures of morbidity, education has an effect at most ages between 45 and 60, but after age 60 has apparently little effect most likely due to selective mortality. In addition, most of the apparent beneficial effect of education stems from obtaining a high school degree or more. It is the health and mortality of lowest education group—those with less than a high school degree—that diverges from the health and mortality of other education groups. Finally, we find that the educational differences in health have become larger for more recent birth cohorts.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.