Sources of Heterogeneity in the Effect of Education on Health and Health Behaviors

Shawn Bauldry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Numerous studies document a link between education and health. The health-related benefits of education vary over the life-course, across cohorts, and across racial and ethnic groups. This study furthers our understanding of variation in the beneficial effects of education on health in two ways. The study adopts an innovative approach to detecting meaningful variation in the effects of higher education on health. The study connects the approach to detecting variation to competing theories of health inequalities: resource substitution and resource multiplication theory. This work draws on Add Health data to analyze the effects of a college degree on two measures of health behaviors, smoking and BMI, and two measures of health outcomes, self-rated health and systolic blood pressure. The results indicate evidence of variation in the health-related returns to a college degree among white females and males that is consistent with the resource multiplication theory.

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Presented in Session 188: Education and Health Behaviors