A1 Journal article (refereed)
Does better education mitigate risky health behavior? : A mendelian randomization study (2022)

Viinikainen, J., Bryson, A., Böckerman, P., Kari, J. T., Lehtimäki, T., Raitakari, O., Viikari, J., & Pehkonen, J. (2022). Does better education mitigate risky health behavior? : A mendelian randomization study. Economics and Human Biology, 46, Article 101134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2022.101134

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Viinikainen, Jutta; Bryson, Alex; Böckerman, Petri; Kari, Jaana T.; Lehtimäki, Terho; Raitakari, Olli; Viikari, Jorma; Pehkonen, Jaakko

Journal or series: Economics and Human Biology

ISSN: 1570-677X

eISSN: 1873-6130

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 23/03/2022

Volume: 46

Article number: 101134

Publisher: Elsevier BV

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2022.101134

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/81267


Education and risky health behaviors are strongly negatively correlated. Education may affect health behaviors by enabling healthier choices through higher disposable income, increasing information about the harmful effects of risky health behaviors, or altering time preferences. Alternatively, the observed negative correlation may stem from reverse causality or unobserved confounders. Based on the data from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study linked to register-based information on educational attainment and family background, this paper identifies the causal effect of education on risky health behaviors. To examine causal effects, we used a genetic score as an instrument for years of education. We found that individuals with higher education allocated more attention to healthy habits. In terms of health behaviors, highly educated people were less likely to smoke. Some model specifications also indicated that the highly educated consumed more fruit and vegetables, but the results were imprecise in this regard. No causal effect was found between education and abusive drinking. In brief, inference based on genetic instruments showed that higher education leads to better choices in some but not all dimensions of health behaviors.

Keywords: health behaviour; lifestyle habits; diets; smoking; alcohol use; education and training; level of education

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:20