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Source: University of Texas at Austin
Resulting in 2 citations.
1. Benson, Rebecca Irene
Targeting Education to Reduce Obesity: At What Life Stages Are Interventions Effective?
Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, 2015
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: University of Texas at Austin
Keyword(s): Body Mass Index (BMI); Education; Educational Attainment; Life Course; Modeling, Fixed Effects; Obesity

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Obesity is a serious policy problem, contributing an estimated $113.9b to medical expenditures in the US. Like many health outcomes, obesity is not distributed at random in the population but is concentrated amongst the less educated. Given this, many have suggested that if more people were to become highly educated, the obesity epidemic might be curtailed. However, this assumes that the association between education and obesity is a causal one, which is not necessarily the case. Moreover, previous research in lifecourse epidemiology suggests that education may occur too late in the lifecourse to have any effect on health trajectory. I perform three empirical studies to examine whether there is a plausibly causal relationship between education and body weight, and examine whether there is a point at which it is too late to alter body weight trajectories using education. All three studies use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), a complex random sample of the US civilian population aged 14-22 in 1978 and followed for more than three decades. In the first study, a cross-sectional regression finds a relationship between education and BMI. I use fixed effects models with individual slopes to test whether gaining a qualification leads to a change in BMI while controlling for individual heterogeneity, and find there is no effect. In study two, I consider the effects of education completed "on-time" with education completed "late." Fixed effects models show that women who earn bachelor's degrees on time benefit from lower BMI, but there is no benefit for late degrees or other qualifications and men do not similarly benefit. The third study stratifies the analysis by early-life circumstances and finds that in a cross-sectional analysis at age 45 only the most advantaged strata benefited from having earned a bachelor's degree. In fixed effects models, gaining a degree did not lead to a change in BMI for any group. Collectively, these findings ca st doubt on education's viability as a policy tool to address obesity, and suggest that at some point in the lifecourse it is too late to alter BMI trajectories by improving socio-economic status.
Bibliography Citation
Benson, Rebecca Irene. Targeting Education to Reduce Obesity: At What Life Stages Are Interventions Effective? Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, 2015.
2. Mulligan, Karen Michelle
Essays in Health Economics
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, May 2012
Cohort(s): NLSY97
Publisher: University of Texas at Austin
Keyword(s): Abortion; Birth Rate; Contraception; Geocoded Data; Insurance, Health; Sexual Behavior; State-Level Data/Policy

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

This dissertation consists of three chapters on health economics, two of which focus on contraception and the third on vaccination. Chapter one examines the impact of state-level contraception insurance coverage mandates on women's fertility outcomes. It utilizes variation in mandated insurance coverage for contraception across states and over time to determine the causal impact of insurance coverage of contraception on fertility outcomes, specifically abortion rates and birth rates. State level results indicate that a mandate decreases abortion rates by 6% in the year of introduction and decreases birth rates by 3% two years following introduction, with the magnitude of both effects remaining steady over the long run.

Chapter three utilizes variations in access to emergency contraception (EC) across states to determine the impact of over the counter access on abortion rates, birth rates, and risky sexual behavior. Using state-level data, a flexible time specification finds that giving individuals over the counter access to EC reduces births and increases risky behavior, which is captured by STD rates. These effects are larger for adults compared with teenagers, however, there are not significant differential effects by race. Finally, the effects are increasing over time following the legislation.

Bibliography Citation
Mulligan, Karen Michelle. Essays in Health Economics. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, May 2012.