School quality and the education-health relationship: Evidence from Blacks in segregated schools

David Frisvold, Ezra Golberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In this paper, we estimate the effect of school quality on the relationship between schooling and health outcomes using the substantial improvements in the quality of schools attended by black students in the segregated southern states during the mid-1900s as a source of identifying variation. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, our results suggest that improvements in school quality, measured as the pupil-teacher ratio, average teachers' wage, and length of the school year, amplify the beneficial effects of education on several measures of health in later life, including self-rated health, smoking, obesity, and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1232-1245
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Emory University Woodruff Funds, and the Emory Global Health Institute. We thank Linda Carter, Len Carlson, Sandy Darity, Daniel Eisenberg, Jason Fletcher, Sarah Gollust, Larry Katz, Paula Lantz, Jens Ludwig, Tom McGuire, Ellen Meara, Soheil Soliman, Jacob Vigdor, the Editor David Cutler, two anonymous referees, and participants at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management conference for helpful comments and discussions. We thank David Card, Jason Fletcher, and Adrianna Lleras-Muney for sharing data about school quality and state characteristics and Carolina Felix for research assistance. We are especially grateful to Stephanie Robinson and Deborah Rose at the National Center for Health Statistics for their assistance with the restricted-access National Health Interview Survey data.


  • Education
  • Health status
  • School quality


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