The Impact of higher education on body weight

Jane Greve, Cecilie Dohlman Weatherall

Abstract


A large and growing body of literature has examined the causal impact of schooling on health and health behaviors. Most of this research exploits changes in education due to compulsory schooling requirements and thus the effect is estimated at a margin—one more year of schooling—at the lower end of the education distribution. This paper is the first paper to estimate the causal effect of higher education, i.e., more than two years in addition to 12 years of primary and secondary education (e.g., a Bachelor of Art degree or a Master of Art degree), on body weight. To identify the causal effect we exploit a reform of the Danish student’s grant scheme in 1988, which involved a grant increase of approximately 60% and apply an instrumental variable approach. The grant scheme covers students’ costs of living throughout their college education. We found that completing a higher education significantly reduced the probability of being overweight (Body Mass Index >25) among men. This effect is identified for a group of people that are much more likely to come from a low income background.A large and growing body of literature has examined the causal impact of schooling on health and health behaviors. Most of this research exploits changes in education due to compulsory schooling requirements and thus the effect is estimated at a margin—one more year of schooling—at the lower end of the education distribution. This paper is the first paper to estimate the causal effect of higher education, i.e., more than two years in addition to 12 years of primary and secondary education (e.g., a Bachelor of Art degree or a Master of Art degree), on body weight. To identify the causal effect we exploit a reform of the Danish student’s grant scheme in 1988, which involved a grant increase of approximately 60% and apply an instrumental variable approach. The grant scheme covers students’ costs of living throughout their college education. We found that completing a higher education significantly reduced the probability of being overweight (Body Mass Index >25) among men. This effect is identified for a group of people that are much more likely to come from a low income background.

Published: Online August 2019.


Keywords


returns to education; higher education; overweight; selection bias; instrumental variable approach, parental income background

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5617/njhe.5941

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