Health Research

I am interested in explaining differences individual health outcomes. Ideally I would establish more causal estimates, but health research being what it is (everything is endogenous) I also produce some descriptive papers. To see my received publications so far in this area click here . Here I highlight two published papers that are able to comment on the causal determinants of an individual’s health.

“Discrimination Makes Me Sick”

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This paper is joint with David Johnston. Specifically, we use an exogenous attitude change to estimate the causal impact of increased discrimination on a range of objective and subjective health outcomes. We highlight that discrimination is an important determinant of the large racial and ethnic health gaps observed in the UK. It is the first paper to establish a causal link between discrimination and health. To achieve this we use a difference and difference design and subject the analysis to a battery of robustness tests. Overall, this paper highlights that discrimination has increased towards Muslims residing in the UK since 2001. We show that the increased discrimination is causing Muslims to have worse mental and physical health.

“Education and Health Knowledge”

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This paper is co-authored with David W. Johnston, Michael A. Shields and Agne Suziedelyte. It is now published in Social Science and Medicine. A large number of influential papers in the economics literature highlight that education during childhood directly causes better health or income in adulthood. These papers use compulsory schooling laws in the UK or the USA to identify a local area treatment effect. However, because these papers do not have access to date of birth information the instrument (which defines whether or not a person was affected by compulsory schooling laws) suffers from measurement error. In this paper, we use a novel dataset that includes date of birth information to highlight that when the instrument is precisely defined there is no effect of education on health. This suggests that previous influential research that highlights a significant relationship between education and health may be driven by measurement error. Specifically, we investigate if there is a causal link between education and health knowledge using data from the 1984/85 and 1991/92 waves of the UK Health and Lifestyle Survey. For causal identification we use increases in the UK minimum school leaving age in 1947 (from 14 to 15) and 1972 (from 15 to 16) to provide exogenous variation in education. We have precise information on date of birth and find no causal effect of education on health knowledge.