The effect of education on health among US residents in relation to country of birth

Bosu Seo, Benjamin Senauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This research explores the impact of education on health in relation to an individual's country of birth using the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2001-2004. We analyze health equations that relate health to education and other variables. Health is measured in terms of self-reported overall health, an index of biological risk factors, and body mass index. The primary hypothesis tested is whether education has a greater impact on immigrants' productive and allocative efficiency, because of their need to learn about how to remain healthy and access appropriate health care in a new environment. The empirical results indicate that for US residents, who were foreign-born, education is associated with a greater beneficial effect on every health outcome compared to those born in the United States. More education is related to an even greater positive effect on health for immigrants from Mexico, the origin of most immigrants, than from other countries. These results provide additional support for the portions of the 2007 Immigration Reform Act rejected by the US Congress, which placed a higher priority on education and job skills than current law. Since increased education and improved health are associated, such policy reform would help reduce the demands on the US health-care system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Mexican-American
  • education
  • health
  • health and education
  • immigration


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