Social Indicators Research

, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 1261–1298 | Cite as

The Education Effect: Higher Educational Qualifications are Robustly Associated with Beneficial Personal and Socio-political Outcomes

  • Matthew J. EasterbrookEmail author
  • Toon Kuppens
  • Antony S. R. Manstead


Level of education is a predictor of a range of important outcomes, such as political interest and cynicism, social trust, health, well-being, and intergroup attitudes. We address a gap in the literature by analyzing the strength and stability of the education effect associated with this diverse range of outcomes across three surveys covering the period 1986–2011, including novel latent growth analyses of the stability of the education effect within the same individuals over time. Our analyses of the British Social Attitudes Survey, British Household Panel Survey, and International Social Survey Programme indicated that the education effect was robust across these outcomes and relatively stable over time, with higher education levels being associated with higher trust and political interest, better health and well-being, and with less political cynicism and less negative intergroup attitudes. The education effect was strongest when associated with political outcomes and attitudes towards immigrants, whereas it was weakest when associated with health and well-being. Most of the education effect appears to be due to the beneficial consequences of having a university education. Our results demonstrate that this beneficial education effect is also manifested in within-individual changes, with the education effect tending to become stronger as individuals age.


The education effect Education Well-being Social attitudes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew J. Easterbrook
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Toon Kuppens
    • 3
  • Antony S. R. Manstead
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityCardiffWales, UK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  3. 3.Department of Social PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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