A Counterfactual Approach to Analyzing the Effect of College Expansion on Health

Shawn Bauldry , Purdue University
Robert Frase, Purdue University

A large body of research documents the presence of an education-health gradient in which people with higher levels of education enjoy better health than people with lower levels of education. The purpose of this study is to examine a potential source of heterogeneity in the education-health gradient—heterogeneity stemming from the expansion of higher education. Drawing on ESS data for UK respondents in pre- and post-expansion of higher education cohorts, this study uses a counterfactual approach to identify individuals who were able to attain a higher education degree with the expansion and to compare their self-rated health against individuals who either attained a higher education degree regardless of the expansion or did not attain a higher education degree regardless of the expansion. The pattern of results are consistent with the possibility that the expansion of higher education is particularly beneficial for people on the margins of attaining a degree.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1