The health effects of education: a meta-analysis

Eur J Public Health. 2008 Aug;18(4):417-21. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckn028. Epub 2008 Apr 23.


Background: There is an abundance of empirical evidence, mainly from the epidemiological and social science literature, on the relation between education and health. Until now a meta-analysis of the relation between education and health was not available. This article presents a meta-analysis of studies that use self- reported health as an outcome variable to quantify the effect of education on health.

Methods: Meta-analysis using a random and a fixed-effects model to quantify the marginal effect of education on self-reported health.

Results: The results of the meta-analysis show that the quality adjusted life years weight (QALYweight) of a year of education is approximately 0.036. Some tentative calculations suggest that the cost-benefit ratio of investments in education on health is highly positive.

Conclusion: For public policy this implies that a more integrated approach to education and health policies should be taken.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Policy
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years