Health Policies as Education Policies? A Review of Causal Evidence and Mechanisms

Maithreyi Gopalan, Rohitha Edara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite lagging behind other high-income countries, the United States has made slow but steady improvements in health, especially for children from low-income households, through a series of health policies and programs since the 1990s. Have these health benefits spilled over to educational attainment and achievement? In this article, we systematically review the causal impact of various health policies and programs on children’s educational outcomes in the United States. We find that several health policies and programs aimed at improving the physical health of children and parents have modest spillover effects on key educational outcomes for school-age children. On the other hand, there is a paucity of research on policies aimed at improving children and adolescents’ mental health (and limited evidence on their efficacy on educational outcomes where research exists). We contextualize the effects of these health policies by providing benchmarks from other education policies and conclude with some key open questions and suggestions that can guide research and policymaking at the health-education nexus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAERA Open
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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