NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Education on Medical Technology Adoption: Are the More Educated More Likely to Use New Drugs

Adriana Lleras-Muney, Frank R. Lichtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 9185
Issued in September 2002
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE

There is a large body of work that documents a strong, positive correlation between education and measures of health, but little is known about the mechanisms by which education might affect health. One possibility is that more educated individuals are more likely to adopt new medical technologies. We investigate this theory by asking whether more educated people are more likely to use newer drugs, while controlling for other individual characteristics, such as income and insurance status. Using the 1997 MEPS, we find that more highly educated people are more likely to use drugs more recently approved by the FDA. We find that education only matters for individuals who repeatedly purchase drugs for a given condition, suggesting that the more educated are better able to learn from experience.

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Published: Lleras-Muney, Adriana and Frank Lichtenberg. “The Effect Of Education On Medical Technology Adoption: Are The More Educated More Likely To Use New Drugs?" Annales d’Economie et Statistique in memory of Zvi Griliches 79/80 (2006).

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