We know for quite some time already that people with a higher education are living a more healthier life. But what is the causal relation. This is the subject of a new working paper (abstract; PDF), by Kasey Buckles, Andreas Hagemann, Ofer Malamud, Melinda Morrill, and Abigail Wozniak which purports to show the long-term health effects of a college education.
Freakonomics sums up the results:
“Differential earnings and health insurance are of course related to the income boost that college graduates receive. It is the “health behaviors” that are learned/adopted by college graduates that are especially interesting.”
Abstract of the research:
We exploit exogenous variation in college completion induced by draft-avoidance behavior during the Vietnam War to examine the impact of college completion on adult mortality. Our preferred estimates imply that increasing college completion rates from the level of the state with the lowest induced rate to the highest would decrease cumulative mortality by 28 percent relative to the mean. Most of the reduction in mortality is from deaths due to cancer and heart disease. We also explore potential mechanisms, including differential earnings, health insurance, and health behaviors, using data from the Census, ACS, and NHIS.