Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wilcox-Gök, Virginia Louise

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Economics


Medical economics


This dissertation consists of three essays examining topics in health economics. The first essay examines the impact of education on 10-year mortality rates of minorities in the United States. I use the states' compulsory education laws to instrument the level of education in my cohort study of the effect of education on the mortality rates of minority groups (Blacks, Asians and Hispanics) born in the early twentieth century. I find that an increase in years of education significantly decreases the mortality rates for the White and Black populations, but not for the Asian and Hispanic populations. The second essay explores the effect of education on adult self-reported health (SRH), health behaviors (smoking, seatbelt use, and exercise), and health outcomes (body mass index (BMI), hypertension, and heart attack) by race and ethnicity using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data from 2001-2011. I find racial and ethnic disparities in the education gradient on SRH that remain significant after controlling for income and other economic factors. I explore the pathway through which education influences health using three different econometric methods to estimate a causal effect. I find that education directly affects health behaviors and that health behaviors directly affect health outcomes including SRH, leading to an indirect impact of education on SRH. My third essay is written in collaboration with my adviser, Dr. Virginia Wilcox-Gok. We use the National Comorbidity Survey Baseline (NCS-1) dataset from 1990-1992 and O*NET (Occupational Information Network) to explore whether individuals diagnosed with depression before age 22 self-select as adults into occupations that accommodate their depressive disorders. Depressive disorder is a health problem that can start very early on in life, so it often limits educational attainment and adult earning. It is also a disorder that can be helped if diagnosed early. Because individuals with chronic depression may need more flexibility and less stress in the workplace to cope with their disorder, their adult occupational choice may depend on how accommodating the occupation's characteristics are to this disorder. We find that women with early-onset depressive disorder are more likely to be employed full time than men, while both men and women are likely to choose self-employment. Men with more frequent depressive episodes are less likely than women to choose occupations requiring higher levels of education, experience, and training. In contrast, women with early onset depressive disorder are more likely than men to take jobs in the service sector.


Advisors: Virginia Wilcox-Gok.||Committee members: Jeremy Groves; Maria Ponomareva.||Includes bibliographical references.


xiii, 225 pages




Northern Illinois University

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