Panel Paper: The Causal Effect of Education on Body Mass, Smoking, and Drinking Among Young Adults in a Developing Country: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Reform in Turkey

Friday, November 7, 2014 : 10:15 AM
Fiesta 1 (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Resul Cesur, na and Omer Dursun, Louisiana State University
While there exist a sizable body of research examining the effect of education on own health and health behaviors using data from developed countries, causal evidence on the topic in developing country settings is scarce. The current study exploits a sharp discontinuity in educational attainment, i.e., increased mandatory basic education from 5 to 8 years, in Turkey to identify the causal effect of middle school graduation on self-reported health, body-mass, smoking, and drinking at young ages using data drawn from the surveys collected by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). Exposure to the reform led to an increase in middle school completion rates of women and men by about 20 and 15 percentage points, respectively. The results show that middle school graduation has differential effects on health outcomes by gender.  Among women, increased education reduced the probability of smoking. Among men, middle school completion is associated with weight gain and increased likelihood of smoking.