Education, Dietary Intakes and Exercise*

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2 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines the relationship between education and health behaviours, focusing on potential offsetting responses between calories in (i.e. dietary intakes) and calories out (i.e. physical activity). It exploits the 1972 British compulsory schooling law that raised the minimum school leaving age from 15 to 16 to estimate the effects of education on diet and exercise around middle age. Using a regression discontinuity design, the findings suggest that the reform led to a worsening of the quality of the diet, with increases in total calories, fats and animal proteins. However, I find that these changes are partially offset by a discontinuous increase in physical activity. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest little effect on the balance of calories. As such, the findings show that focusing on the two components of energy balance provides additional information that is concealed in analyses that only use a measure of obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-240
Number of pages27
JournalOxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

JEL Classification numbers: I12, I21, I28.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics published by Oxford University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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