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Does longer compulsory schooling affect mental health? Evidence from a British reform

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number104137
Pages (from-to)1-34
Early online date24 Feb 2020
Accepted/In press8 Jan 2020
E-pub ahead of print24 Feb 2020
PublishedMar 2020


King's Authors


In this paper, we examine whether longer compulsory schooling has a causal effect on mental health, exploiting a 1972 reform which raised the minimum school leaving age from age 15 to 16 in Great Britain. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that the reform did not improve mental health. We provide evidence that extending the duration of compulsory schooling impacts mental health through channels other than increased educational attainment. We argue that these effects may mitigate or offset the health returns to increased educational attainment.

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