This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Important is Education to Your Health?

My thanks to Shoshana Grossbard for pointing me to an interesting article just published in the Journal Population Economics that examines the health impact of educational attainment. The study examines twins included in the Midlife in the United States survey, which included a national sample of 1,900 twin pairs. Using these latter data, Swedish researcher Pettor Lundborg was able to conclude that a twin who completed high school was healthier than the sibling who did not, but other returns to education were negligible. These somewhat vague findings are a reminder that our health (and the chance of death more generally) is driven by factors that operate at several different scales. The single most important is the country in which we are born because that puts us in a particular physical and cultural infrastructural framework that influences all aspects of health. Life expectancy is more about where we live than who we are. At the other extreme is the gene pool with which we are born, which can affect the probability of good health and long life relative to those around us, regardless of whether we live in a high or low mortality society. In between are the sociocultural influences over which we might have some individual control, such as education. Even if a bit vague, the results are still consistent with the idea that, all other things being equal, education is good for your health--but I'm sure you never doubted that.

1 comment:


    Do you think this is correct? That the uSA must save families to prevent poverty? I feel this sort of message discriminates against single parents and makes them feel they are in some way failures. I can't see how this sort of article can be published in a country where all are equal. This sort of article will make single parents feel inferior and thus has no place in the American press.