The causal effect of education on health in late life

PI: Martin Lövdén

Many diseases that affect older individuals are partly attributable to modifiable risk factors. Primary prevention is therefore important. Low educational attainment stands out as one of the most important risk factors.

Directing resources to prevention is however only effective if the association is driven by a substantial causal influence of education on health. Studying such effects of education on health is challenging because experiments are not feasible and key disease outcomes are only observable several decades after education. The magnitude of a causal effect of education on specific health outcomes in older age therefore remains debated and the pathways mediating effects of education on health in older age are unknown.

The objectives of this research program are to fill in these lacunae in knowledge by using historical reforms extending compulsory Swedish primary school for studying the causal influence of education on specific health outcomes and potential mediating factors.

This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life, and Welfare (Forte).