Does Children's Education Affect Parental Health and Mortality? A Regression Discontinuity Approach with Linked Census Data from England and Wales

Parents with better-educated children are healthier and live longer, but whether there is a causal effect of children’s education on their parents’ health and longevity is unclear. Previous research has been largely associational. Our study uses the 1972 educational reform in England and Wales, which increased the minimum school leaving age from 15 to 16 years, to identify the effect of children’s education on parental health and longevity. We analyse the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study (ONS-LS), which contains linked census and life events data for a one-per cent sample of the population of England and Wales. Our intent-to-treat estimates reveal that children’s education has only limited effects on a wide range of outcomes related to parental mortality and health. We interpret these findings against the backdrop of universal and free health care and the role of education in socio-economic (health) inequalities in England and Wales.