The education effect on population health: A reassessment

David P. Baker, Juan Leon, Emily G. Smith Greenaway, John Collins, Marcela Movit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

286 Scopus citations


Demographic research frequently reports consistent and signifcant associations between formal educational attainment and a range of health risks such as smoking, drug abuse, and accidents, as well as the contraction of many diseases, and health outcomes such as mortality-almost all indicating the same conclusion: better-educated individuals are healthier and live longer. Despite the substantial reporting of a robust education effect, there is inadequate appreciation of its independent influence and role as a causal agent. To address the effect of education on health in general, three contributions are provided: 1) a macro-level summary of the dimensions of the worldwide educational revolution and a reassessment of its causal role in the health of individuals and in the demographic health transition are carried out; 2) a meta-analysis of methodologically sophisticated studies of the effect of educational attainment on all-cause mortality is conducted to establish the independence and robustness of the education effect on health; and 3) a schooling-cognition hypothesis about the influence of education as a powerful determinant of health is developed in light of new multidisciplinary cognitive research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-332
Number of pages26
JournalPopulation and Development Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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