Selection and Causation in the Parental Education Gradient in Health: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees
We use data from a large sample of adoptees born in Sweden to study to what extent the well-established association between parental educational attainments and adult health of the child generation can be attributed to pre- or post-birth factors, respectively. We find a significant association between the educational attainment of the adopting parents and child health outcomes as adults. These results suggest that growing up in a better-educated household has long-term effects on health outcomes. Our analysis of the mechanisms behind the results suggests that formation of human capital, and in particular cognitive and non-cognitive skills, may be important.
Evelina Björkegren gratefully acknowledges financial support from Handelsbanken’s Research Foundations; Mikael Lindahl was a Torsten Söderberg Professor at Handelshögskolan, Göteborgs Universitet, during the work on this article, and acknowledges support from the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Foundations, and Jan Wallanders and Tom Hedelius Stiftelse, and Tore Browaldh Stiftelse; Mårten Palme gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Swedish Council of Social Research; and Emilia Simeonova from the Swedish Research Council and the National Science Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.