4. WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF EDUCATION ON HEALTH? – 171
4. What are the effects of education on health?
By Leon Feinstein, Ricardo Sabates, Tashweka M. Anderson,
Annik Sorhaindo and Cathie Hammond∗
Leon Feinstein, Ricardo Sabates, Tashweka Anderson, Annik Sorhaindo and Cathie Hammond, Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, United Kingdom. We would like to thank David Hay, Wim Groot, Henriette Massen van den Brink and Laura Salganik for the useful comments on the paper and to all participants at the Social Outcome of Learning Project Symposium organised by the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), in Copenhagen on 23rd and 24th March 2006. We would like to thank the OECD/CERI, for their financial support of this project. A great many judicious and helpful suggestions to improve this report have been put forward by Tom Schuller and Richard Desjardins. We are particularly grateful for the general funding of the WBL Centre through the Department for Education and Skills whose support has been a vital component of this research endeavour.
We would also like to thank research staff at the Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning for their useful comments on this report. Other useful suggestions were received from participants at the roundtable event organised by the Wider Benefits of Learning and the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, University College London, on 6th December 2005.
All remaining errors are our own.
MEASURING THE EFFECTS OF EDUCATION ON HEALTH AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: PROCEEDINGS OF THE COPENHAGEN SYMPOSIUM – © OECD 2006
172 – 4.1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
4.1. Executive summary
This report reviews the evidence on the hypothesis that education has important social impacts on health. In reviewing the evidence, we highlight those studies that have attempted to identify causal impacts with robust estimation techniques. We have also described evidence that demonstrates the extent of the descriptive correlation of education and health.
As well as reviewing the evidence on the overall effect of education, we have reviewed the evidence on potential mechanisms for this effect, in a wide range of different personal and social contexts.
Overview of the structure of the report
In Section 4.2 of the report we have mapped out a general conceptual framework that sets out the hypothesised mechanisms for the effect of education on health. This framework creates a structure within which evidence and theory from diverse strands of the literature can be linked coherently. It also enables us to include within the review, evidence that does not investigate the direct impact of education on health but rather investigates the relationship between education and a potential mechanism or mediator of impacts on health.
We set out the methodological criteria for our review of the evidence in Section 4.3 and summarise the findings of this review in Section 4.4. The implications of these findings are discussed in Section 4.5 in relation to the development of indicators and in terms of general policy conclusions in Section 4.6.
The remaining sections present a detailed review of the evidence. Section 4.7 summarises the search criteria for evidence. In Sections 4.8 and 4.9 we describe the evidence in relation to the direct effects of education on mental and physical health and health behaviours. In Sections 4.10 and 4.11 we describe the evidence in relation to the indirect mechanisms that have been emphasised in the conceptual review, namely via effects of education on the self and effects of education on contexts.
Overall, we find considerable international evidence that education is strongly linked to health and to determinants of health such as health behaviours, risky contexts and preventative service use. Moreover, we find that a substantial element of this effect is causal.
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