Is Attendance All That Matters? The Relationship between High School Grades and Later-Life Health Outcomes

Lauren H. Nicholas, University of Michigan
Gunnar Malmberg, Umeå University

Dramatic differences in life expectancy and health status across levels of educational attainment have been well-documented in the United States, Canada and Europe. However, relatively little is known about how educational achievement within years of school influences long-term health outcomes. We use a unique Swedish administrative dataset that includes high school grades from the birth cohorts of 1972 – 1975 linked to information about parents and siblings, employment outcomes and vital statistics from Statistics Sweden registry. Our dataset includes nearly 60,000 siblings, allowing us to control for shared genetic and socioeconomic factors. In mother fixed models, we find that better performance in high school is associated with a lower probability of adverse health events connected to the labor market. The probability of receiving extended sick allowance benefits or claiming early retirement due to disability declines with high school GPA. High school completion is protective against early mortality regardless of GPA.

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Presented in Poster Session 4