The Effect of College Education on Health and Mortality: Evidence from Canada

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18 Décembre 2018
Types de publication: 
Cahier de recherche
Guy Lacroix
Francois Lalibertée-Auger
Pierre-Carl Michaud
Daniel Parent
Axe de recherche: 
Enjeux économiques et financiers
instrumental variables
Classification JEL: 

We investigate the returns to college attendance in Canada in terms of health and mortality reduction. To do so, we first use a dynamic health microsimulation model to document how interventions which incentivize college attendance among high school graduates may impact their health trajectory, health care consumption and life expectancy. We find large returns both in terms of longevity (4.1 years additional years at age 51), reduction in the prevalence of various health conditions (10-15 percentage points reduction in diabetes and 5 percentage points for stroke) and health care consumption (27.3% reduction in lifetime hospital stays, 19.7 for specialists). We find that education impacts mortality mostly by delaying the incidence of health conditions as well as providing a survival advantage conditional on having diseases. Second, we provide quasi-experimental evidence on the impact of college attendance on long- term health outcomes by exploiting the Canadian Veteran's Rehabilitation Act, a program targeted towards returning WW-II veterans and which incentivized college attendance. The impact on mortality are found to be larger than those estimated from the health microsimulation model (hazard ratio of 0.216 compared to 0.6 in the simulation model) which suggest substantial returns to college education in terms of healthy life extension which we estimate around one million canadian dollars.


Guy Lacroix
Francois Lalibertée-Auger
Pierre-Carl Michaud :  Department of Applied Economics, HEC Montréal, 3000 chemin Côte-Ste-Catherine, Montréal, H3T2A7
Daniel Parent


We acknowledge funding from the National Institute of Aging trough grant R01AG040176-06. We are grateful to Statistics Canada trough the Quebec Interuniversity Center for Social Statistics (QICSS) for granting access to the data used for this project. We thank Sébastien Box-Couillard and Aurélie Coté- Sergent for excellent research assistance. Part of the analysis presented in this paper was conducted at the Quebec Interuniversity Centre for Social Statistics which is part of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN). The services and activities provided by the QICSS are made possible by the financial or in-kind support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Statistics Canada, the Fonds de recherche du Qubec - Socit et culture (FRQSC), the Fonds de recherche du Qubec - Sant (FRQS) and the Quebec universities. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s), and not necessarily those of the CRDCN or its partners. All errors are our own.