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Does more education always improve mental health? Evidence from a British compulsory schooling reform

Research output: Working paper

Original languageEnglish
PublishedApr 2017

Publication series

NameHEDG Working Paper series
PublisherUniversity of York

King's Authors


In this paper, we test whether education has a causal effect on mental health by exploiting a compulsory schooling reform in 1972, which raised the minimum school leaving age from 15 to 16 years old in Great Britain. Using a regression discontinuity design, we provide robust evidence that although the reform increased educational attainment, it also increased the prevalence of depression and other mental health conditions in adulthood. Our results do not imply that more schooling per se leads to poorer mental health, but rather suggest that forcing low achieving teenagers to remain in an academic environment may have
long-term unintended consequences on their mental health

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