Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 551–589 | Cite as

Revisiting the relationship between longevity and lifetime education: global evidence from 919 surveys

  • Mohammad Mainul Hoque
  • Elizabeth M. King
  • Claudio E. Montenegro
  • Peter F. OrazemEmail author
Original Paper


The contrasting results from previous research motivate this reexamination of the longevity-schooling relationship. The study uses a different identification strategy applied to cohort-specific data from 919 household surveys conducted between 1960 and 2012 spanning 147 countries. We find a significant positive relationship between increased life expectancy at birth and lifetime completed years of schooling in 95% of the surveys and significant negative effects only in 0.3%. In addition, parents’ own longer life expectancy at birth has intergenerational benefits for their children’s schooling. The 31-year increase in life expectancy at birth worldwide for birth cohorts 1922–1987 is associated with 60–100% of the 4.8 additional years of completed schooling for those birth cohorts. These results are robust for different specifications across surveys, population groups, and world regions.


Life expectancy Lifetime education Cohort Human capital Ben-Porath 

JEL classification

J10 I15 O15 



The authors thank the referees and the editor for excellent comments and advice on our prior version.


  1. Acemoglu D, Johnson S (2007) Disease and development: the effect of life expectancy on economic growth. J Polit Econ 115(6):925–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barro R, Lee J-W (2013) A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950-2010. J Dev Econ 104:184–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker GS (1994) Human capital: a theoretical and empirical analysis with special reference to education, 3rd edition. Chicago: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker GS, Tomes N (1979) An equilibrium theory of the distribution of income and intergenerational mobility. J Polit Econ 87(1979):1153–1189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker GS, Tomes N (1986) Human capital and the rise and fall of families. J Labor Econ 4(1986):S1–S39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ben-Porath Y (1967) The production of human capital and the life cycle of earnings. J Polit Econ 75:352–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bleakley H (2007) Disease and development: evidence from hookworm eradication in the American South. Q J Econ 122(1):73–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bleakley H (2010a) Malaria eradication in the Americas: a retrospective analysis of childhood exposure. Am Econ J-Appl Econ 2(2):1–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bleakley H (2010b) Health, human capital, and development. Ann Rev Econom 2:283–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bleakley H (2017) Longevity, education, and income: how large is the triangle? Available at Last accessed on 12 Aug 2017
  11. Bobonis GJ, Miguel E, Puri-Sharma C (2006) Anemia and school participation. J Hum Resour 41(4):692–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cervellati M, Sunde U (2011) Life expectancy and economic growth: the role of the demographic transition. J Econ Growth 16(2):99–133Google Scholar
  13. Cervellati M, Sunde U (2013) Life expectancy, schooling, and lifetime labor supply: theory and evidence revisited. Econometrica 81:2055–2086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen D, Leker L (2014) Health and education: another look with the proper data. Available at Last accessed on 17 July 2015
  15. Cutler D, Fung W, Kremer M, Singhal M, Vogl T (2010) Early-life malaria exposure and adult outcomes: evidence from malaria eradication in India. Am Econ J-Appl 2(2):72–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dercon S, Sánchez A (2013) Height in mid childhood and psychosocial competencies in late childhood: Evidence from four developing countries. Econ Hum Biol 11(4):426–432Google Scholar
  17. Glewwe P, Jacoby H, King E (2001) Early childhood nutrition and academic achievement: a longitudinal analysis. J Public Econ 81:345–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hansen CW (2013) Life expectancy and human capital: evidence from the international epidemiological transition. J Health Econ 32(6):1142–1152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hansen CW, Strulik H (2017) Life expectancy and education: evidence from the cardiovascular revolution. J Econ Growth 22(4):421–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hazan M (2009) Longevity and lifetime labor supply: evidence and implications. Econometrica 77(6):1829–1863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hazan M (2012) Life expectancy and schooling: new insights from cross-country data. J Popul Econ 25(4):1237–1248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heckman JJ (1976) A life-cycle model of earnings, learning, and consumption. J Polit Econ 84:S9–S44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jayachandran S, Lleras-Muney A (2009) Life expectancy and human capital investments: evidence from maternal mortality declines. Q J Econ 124(1):349–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kalemli-Ozcan S, Ryder HE, Weil DN (2000) Mortality decline, human capital investment, and economic growth. J Dev Econ 62(1):1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. King EM, Montenegro CE, Orazem PF (2012) Economic freedom, human rights, and the returns to human capital: an evaluation of the Schultz hypothesis. Econ Dev Cult Chang 61(1):39–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kinsella K, Velkoff VA (2001) Life expectancy and changing mortality, Chapter 3, An aging world, 2001. International Population Reports, US Census Bureau, Series P95/01-1Google Scholar
  27. Lorentzen P, McMillan J, Wacziarg R (2008) Death and development. J Econ Growth 13(1):81–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lucas AM (2010) Malaria eradication and educational attainment: evidence from Paraguay and Sri Lanka. Am Econ J-Appl Econ 2(2):46–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maccini S, Yang D (2009) Under the weather: Health, schooling, and economic consequences of early-life rainfall. Am Econ Rev 99(3):1006–1026Google Scholar
  30. Maluccio JA, Hoddinott J, Behrman JR, Martorell R, Quisumbing AR, Stein AD (2009) The impact of improving nutrition during early childhood on education among Guatemalan adults. Econ J 119(537):734–763Google Scholar
  31. Miguel E, Kremer M (2004) Worms: identifying impacts on education and health in the presence of treatment externalities. Econometrica 72(1):159–217Google Scholar
  32. Oster E, Shoulson I, Dorsey ER (2013) Limited life expectancy, human capital and health investments. Am Econ Rev 103(5):1977–2002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Royalty AB (2000) Tax preferences for fringe benefits and the health insurance offered by employers. J Public Econ 75(2):209–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ruhm CJ (2000) Are recessions good for your health? Q J Econ 115(2):617–650Google Scholar
  35. Shakotko R, Edwards L (2017) An exploration of the dynamic relationship between health and cognitive development in adolescence. In: Grossman M (ed) Determinants of health: an economic perspective. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 190–211Google Scholar
  36. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017) World population prospects: the 2017 revision, DVD editionGoogle Scholar
  37. World Health Organization (n.d.) Various years. World health statistics annualGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bangladesh Institute of Development StudiesDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.The Brookings InstitutionWashington D.C.USA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.World BankWashington D.C.USA
  5. 5.German Development InstituteBonnGermany
  6. 6.Department of EconomicsIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  7. 7.IZABonnGermany

Personalised recommendations