The Effect of Early-Life Education on Later-Life Mortality

Dan Black, University of Chicago
Yu-Chieh Hsu, University of Chicago
Lowell Taylor, Carnegie Mellon University

Many studies link cross-state policy variation in compulsory schooling laws to early-life educational attainment of individuals born in the early twentieth century U.S., thus providing a plausible way to investigate the causal impact of education on various lifetime outcomes. We use this strategy to estimate the effect of education on older-age mortality. Our key innovation is to combine U.S. Census data and the complete Vital Statistics records to form precise mortality estimates by sex, birth cohort, and birth state. In turn we find that virtually all of the variation in these mortality rates is captured by cohort effects and state effects alone, making it impossible to reliably tease out any additional impact due to changing educational attainment induced by state-level changes in compulsory schooling.

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Presented in Session 76: SES and Health and Mortality