The causal effects of education on adult health, mortality and income: Evidence from Mendelian randomization and the raising of the school leaving age

7th June 2021 : 12:45 - 14:00

Category: Webinar

Research Group: Quantitative Methods Hub

Speaker: Dr Matt Dickson. University of Bath

Location: Online - Zoom

Convener: Steve Strand

Convener: Ellie Suh

Audience: Public

Please register ahead of the webinar at this link.

Dr Matt Dickson

We compare estimates of the effects of education on health and health behaviour using two distinct natural experiments in the UK Biobank data. One is based on a widely used policy reform while the other, known as Mendelian randomization (MR), uses genetic variation. The policy reform is the raising of the minimum school leaving age (RoSLA) from 15 to 16 which took place in the UK in 1972.

MR exploits germline genetic variation that associates with educational attainment and is a strategy widely used in epidemiology and clinical sciences. Under the assumption of monotonicity, these approaches identify distinct local average treatment effects (LATEs), with potentially different sets of compliers. The RoSLA affected the amount of education for those at the lower end of the education distribution whereas MR affects individuals across the entire distribution.

We find that estimates using each approach are remarkably congruent for a wide range of health outcomes. Effect sizes of additional years of education thus seem to be similar across the distribution. Our study highlights the usefulness of MR as a source of instrumental variation in education.