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Health Econ. 2006 Nov;15(11):1201-16.

Health, schooling and lifestyle among young adults in Finland.

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  • 1Centre for Health Economics at STAKES (CHESS), Finland. unto.hakkinen@stakes.fi

Abstract

This was a longitudinal, general population study based on a Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort, using a structural equation approach to estimate the health production function and health input functions for four lifestyle variables (smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise and unhealthy diet) for males and females. In particular, we examined the productive and allocative effects of education on health. We used 15D, a generic measure of health-related quality of life, as a single index score measure but we also estimated models for some of its dimensions. Among the males, the important factors impacting on health were education and all the four lifestyle factors, as well as some exogenous variables at 31 years and variables describing parents' background, and health and behaviour at 14 years. An increase of five years in schooling increased the health score by 0.008, of which about 50% was due to direct effect and 50% due to indirect effects. Among the females, education does not impact on health, but health was affected by the use of alcohol, exercise and diet, but not by smoking. Our results indicate that policy options that increase education among men will increase their health indirectly via healthier lifestyles. However, since the total effect was rather modest and the direct effect insignificant, an increase of schooling is not a cost-effective way to increase health given the present high educational level of Finland. The young adults' and particularly women's internationally high educational status in Finland might be a reason why we find only a modest effect of schooling on health and the non-existence of such effects among women.

Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID:
16786496
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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