Secondary School Quality and Midlife Health: Evidence from High School and Beyond

Image of school hallway

Much of the research on the association between education and later-life health considers the quantity of schooling that people complete without taking into account differences in school quality. However, people with the same quantity of completed schooling are highly diverse with respect to the quality of schooling they experienced. Using data from the High School and Beyond (HSB) survey, we ask how secondary school quality is associated with health outcomes at age ~60. We measure secondary school quality using “value-added” models that estimate each school’s contribution to student academic achievement conditional on students’ baseline achievement and family background. Among the 12,960 HSB panelists in our final analytic sample, we find strong evidence that the quality of secondary schooling that people experience is negatively associated with the risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and memory complaints at midlife, even net of the quantity of schooling they complete.

Hyeran Chung, University of Minnesota; John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota; Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin; Chandra Muller, University of Texas

Friday, April 19, 2024
Columbus, Ohio, USA