The Effects of Education Quantity and Quality on Child and Adult Mortality: Their Magnitude and Their Value

Authors: Elina Pradhan, Elina Suzuki, Sebastian Martinez, Marco Schaferhoff, Dean Jamison


The economic returns to education investments from a health perspective are analyzed by (1) estimating the effects of education on under-five mortality, adult mortality, and fertility; (2) calculating the economic returns to education resulting from these declines while considering the effects of education investments on income; and (3) developing policy-relevant recommendations to help guide education investments. Returns to education prove substantially higher than generally understood, and donors and countries should reflect this in their investment decisions. Female education matters more than male education in achieving health outcomes, and investments targeted to girls’ education yield a substantial return on health. Children need to get into school because of the substantial health effects resulting from school attendance, and the highly positive benefit-cost ratio (BCR) that takes into account the health impact of education provides a compelling rationale for much stronger cross-sectoral collaboration between the education and health sectors. Substantial gaps remain in the availability of data on the quality of education and learning in LMICs, which increased donor support could help to improve.