Adult Children’s Education and Parental Health and Mortality in England and Wales: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Cecilia Potente, Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich
Patrick Praeg , University of Oxford
Christiaan W. S. Monden, University of Oxford

Parents with better-educated children are healthier and live longer, but whether there is a causal effect of children’s education on their parents’ health and longevity is still unclear. Previous research has been largely associational and was thus not able to account for all circumstances that confound children’s education and parental longevity. Our study uses the 1972 educational reform in England and Wales, which increased the minimum school leaving age from 15 to 16 years, to identify the effect of children’s education on parental health and longevity. Our intent-to-treat estimates reveal that children’s education affects a wide range of outcomes related to parental mortality and health reports only to a limited extent. Effect sizes are small, thus rarely reaching conventional levels of statistical significance. We interpret these findings against the backdrop of universal and free health care and the role of education in socioeconomic inequality in England and Wales.

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 Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging