Direct Effect of Education on Mortality in Men: Insights from a Natural Experiment

Marc Luy, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Christian Wegner-Siegmundt, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Paola DiGiulio, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

Education is the central element of a complex network that links many factors related to socioeconomic status (SES) with health and mortality. We contribute to the question whether education per se has a direct effect on longevity by analysing the association between education and mortality in 3,060 Catholic monks from Germany who were born between 1840 and 1959. To better assess the obtained results we compare the monks with a sample of 3,221 men of the general population. Analyses are based on Kaplan-Meier product limit estimation and Cox proportional hazard modelling. We find that among male order members education does not have any impact on mortality and that the survival of both low and high educated monks is almost identical to that of worldly men with high education. Health behaviours and occupation-related risk factors are discussed as most likely causes for the differences between the monastic and the general population.

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Presented in Session 225: Education, Health, and Mortality: Causality Issues