The Effects of Education on Mortality: Evidence From a Representative Sample of American Twins, Siblings, and Neighbors

John R. Warren , University of Minnesota
Jonas Helgertz, University of Minnesota/Lund University
Andrew Halpern-Manners, Indiana University
Evan Roberts, University of Minnesota

Does education change people’s lives in a way that delays mortality? Or is education primarily a proxy for unobserved endowments that promote longevity? Most conclude that the former is true, but recent evidence based on Danish twin data calls this conclusion into question. Unfortunately, these findings—that obtaining additional schooling has no effect on survival net of hard-to-observe characteristics—has not yet been subject to replication outside Scandinavia. We produce the first U.S.-based estimates of the effects of education on mortality using a representative panel of male twins drawn from linked Census and death records. For comparison purposes, and to shed light on the roles that neighborhood, family, and genetic factors play in confounding associations between education and mortality, we also produce parallel estimates using data on (1) unrelated males who lived in different neighborhoods; (2) unrelated males who shared the same neighborhood; and (3) non-twin siblings who shared the same families.

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 Presented in Session 44. Studying Health and Mortality Using Linked Data