School Is Not Healthy

Better educated folks are healthier, but they would be just as healthy with less school:

There is a strong, positive and well-documented correlation between education and health outcomes. There is much less evidence on the extent to which this correlation reflects the causal effect of education on health – the parameter of interest for policy. … Our approach exploits two changes to British compulsory schooling laws that generated sharp differences in educational attainment among individuals born just months apart. … We confirm that the cohorts just affected by these changes completed significantly more education than slightly older cohorts subject to the old laws. However, we find little evidence that this additional education improved health outcomes or changed health behaviors.

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  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    It’s not unhealthy either. On the other hand, prison is quite healthy for the sorts of people that wind up in prison. There are more on-screen prison murders than actual murders in prison.

  • andrew

    is wealth or social environment not a more important factor? overall don’t richer folks, for one reason or another, get better grades than poorer folks?

    naturally i think successful folk with high expectations of success for themselves and their offspring are more likely to keep them in school longer and encourage them to take part in educational activities outside of school as they expect them to have a good chance of finding a well-paid intellectually rewarding career

    i’m no social scientist or graduate of any kind, but i’d be surprised if there wasn’t a strong link between wealth and health. amount of time spent in school is a result of social standing in my opinion and is the more important factor on health and life expectancy

    btw, i read this blog regularly and as a layman with no qualifications after school i find it perfectly intelligible and thought provoking at the same time. if only more academics spoke plain english the world would be a better place i feel

    • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

      Health problems could also cause you to become less wealthy.

      • andrew

        true, i guess it depends on how wealthy you are in the first place. i imagine those at the upper end of the social spectrum wouldn’t suffer as much, and the same could be said of those on unemployment benefits, as there’s nothing to be lost in earnings through being ill

        it does hold true for the working class and most of the middle class though, there’s only so much sick leave even proffessionals can take. i don’t get sick pay myself, but i’m only a store clerk, i don’t expect to

  • Hal Finney

    It seems that the world holds less causation and more correlation than we think. I wonder why evolution would miscalibrate our judgment on such issues to err on the side of inferring causation?

    • Doug S.

      It’s generally assumed that the cost of not noticing a causation that actually existed was a lot greater than finding one where it didn’t exist.

    • http://www.permut.wordpress.com Michael Metcalf Bishop

      Perhaps there is a cognitive bias, but there is also a social bias. There is more at stake with questions of causation than correlation, therefore people have more incentive to discover, or claim to have discovered, causal relationships.

    • Tim Tyler

      There is causation here: *something* is causing both better health outcomes and better access to education. It could be good genes or a good environment.

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