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Non-market outcomes of education: the long-term impact of education on individuals' social participation and health in Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1628-1068
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In research, it is typical to analyse and discuss the utility of education in economic terms—specifically the market value of a particular degree or the financial returns associated with additional years in higher education. However, education may also generate outcomes that belong to the non-market sphere, such as open-mindedness, societal cohesion, community involvement, better health, and gender equality; yet these outcomes have received little scholarly attention. The main objective of this thesis, therefore, is to investigate the relationship between education and four non-market outcomes: agency, voice, health behaviour and psychological distress. By utilizing two longitudinal data sets, the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions and the Northern Swedish Cohort, it is possible to assess the long-term effects of education on each of these four non-market outcomes.

Results clearly demonstrate that education has a critical impact on each of the outcomes of interest. Having a higher education—and in particular a university degree–enhances individuals’ agency and voice, reduces psychological distress, and improves individuals’ health behaviour. Further, results show that different academic subjects generate field-specific resources. In contrast to a market perspective, where the value of the specific field of study is assessed only in economic terms, results indicate that fields that are commonly viewed as having low market value may actually yield non-economic rewards that benefit individuals in critically important ways.

Analyses also show that individual and social factors shape the extent to which education leads to positive outcomes. In terms of agency and voice, results indicate that education can compensate for social differences. Among those with a working class background, earning a university degree contributes to increasing levels of agency and voice, while no significant effects of education exist for those with a white-collar background. Results also demonstrate that the impact of education on psychological well-being differs for men and women. For men, labour market resources (i.e., being employed) was important for reducing psychological distress, while for women social resources (i.e., having a partner) was more important.

Due to its use of high quality, longitudinal data, this thesis makes a significant contribution to the scholarly literature and to what we know about the impact of education attainment. A limitation of cross-sectional analyses is that it is difficult to separate causal effects from selection effects. By adopting a longitudinal approach, it is possible to control for earlier (baseline) circumstances and therefore assess the causal impact of education on individual outcomes. This strategy yields robust results that make clear the long-term effects of educational attainment on individuals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2014. , 38 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 74
Keyword [en]
education, non-market outcomes, agency, voice, health behaviour, psychological distress, longitudinal design, capability approach, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88369ISBN: 978-91-7601-051-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88369DiVA: diva2:715410
Public defence
2014-05-30, Hörsal 1031, Norra beteendevetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-09 Created: 2014-05-05 Last updated: 2014-05-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Higher education and self-governance: the effects of higher education and field of study on voice and agency in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Higher education and self-governance: the effects of higher education and field of study on voice and agency in Sweden
2012 (English)In: International Journal of Lifelong Education, ISSN 0260-1370, E-ISSN 1464-519X, Vol. 31, no 6, 817-834 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is extensive research pointing to the positive effects of education in the form of labour market outcomes. These outcomes are vital when evaluating education; there are however additional outcomes of education that might also be important for quality of life. From this point of view, education could affect non-market areas such as democracy, gender equality and civic engagement. This article investigates the effects of level of education and field of study on two vital non-market capabilities: agency and voice. The study uses an eight-year longitudinal national survey of 1058 Swedish youth, controlling for baseline values of voice and agency. The empirical analysis shows that university education increases young people’s capabilities of voice and agency. Field of study was also found to have a relationship with agency, where social science and business education was found to be connected with the highest probability of agency, whereas there were only small effects of field of education on voice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2012
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60475 (URN)10.1080/02601370.2012.733891 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-10-15 Created: 2012-10-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. What does class origin and education mean for the capabilities of agency and voice?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What does class origin and education mean for the capabilities of agency and voice?
2015 (English)In: British Journal of Sociology of Education, ISSN 0142-5692, E-ISSN 1465-3346, Vol. 36, no 2, 291-312 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates the relationship between class origin, educational attainment, and the capabilities of agency and voice. The main objectives are to investigate how class origin and educational attainment interact and to consider whether higher education reduces any structural inequalities in the social aspects of life. A longitudinal approach is applied, using a national survey of 1058 Swedish young people, controlling for baseline values of agency and voice. The empirical analysis reveals an association between class origin and agency and voice. University education proves to be of central importance for the capabilities of agency and voice; however, this varied for young people with different class origin. Young people from manual working-class backgrounds benefit from higher education, while no significant result was found for young people with white-collar parents. The results indicate that higher education reduces structural differences in capabilities central for social participation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2015
Keyword
class origin, education, agency, voice
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79954 (URN)10.1080/01425692.2013.820126 (DOI)000349247500006 ()
Available from: 2013-09-09 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Education and health-lifestyle among men and women in Sweden: a 27-year prospective cohort study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Education and health-lifestyle among men and women in Sweden: a 27-year prospective cohort study
2013 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 41, no 3, 284-292 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Previous research has found a positive association between health-behaviour and health. Only a few longitudinalstudies have been performed, and as far as we found, none have followed a cohort for 27 years. Methods: This study used acohort study, the “Northern Swedish Cohort”, which consisted of all graduates, n = 1080, from a compulsory school in aSwedish town. Data were collected with a comprehensive questionnaire; response rate 96.4%. Health-behaviour was analysedwith binary logistic regression, with health-behaviour at age 21, 30 and 43 years as dependent variable. Besides baselinehealth-behaviour, gender, somatic and psychological health and socioeconomic background, the analyses were adjustedfor work situation and social network. Results: The main findings were that education reduces the probability of unhealthybehaviour over the life course, which held after controlling for early life health-behaviour and possible confounders. Thegeneral education effect on health-behaviour was stronger among men than among women. Conclusions: Higher educationreduces the probability of unhealthy behavior. Thus, investments in higher education should be an important public goal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013
Keyword
education, health-behaviour, life course, youth
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66156 (URN)10.1177/1403494813475531 (DOI)000318632100009 ()
Available from: 2013-02-18 Created: 2013-02-18 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. Higher education and psychological distress: a 27-year prospective cohort study in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Higher education and psychological distress: a 27-year prospective cohort study in Sweden
2014 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 42, no 2, 155-162 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aims: Research identifies a positive link between education and a reduction of psychological distress, but few studies have analysed the long-term impact of education on psychological distress. This study followed the same cohort for 27 years, investigating the association between education and adult psychological distress. Further, it discuss whether the link can be understood through the mediating mechanisms of social and labour-market resources, furthermore, if the mechanisms operate differently for men and women. Method: A 27-year prospective cohort study was performed at ages 16, 18, 21, 30 and 43. The cohort consisted of all students (n = 1083, of which 1001 are included in this study) in their final year of compulsory school in Sweden. Data were collected through comprehensive questionnaires (response rate 96.4%), and analysed with OLS regression, with psychological distress at age 21, 30 and 43 as dependent variable. Baseline psychological distress, measures of social and labour-market resources, and possible educational selection factors were used as independent variables. To compare the overall magnitude of educational differences, a kappa index was calculated. Results: A positive relation between higher education and less psychological distress was found. When becoming older this relation weakens and a link between social and labour-market resources and psychological distress is observed, indicating that education in a long-term perspective operates through the suggested mechanisms. Additionally, the mechanisms work somewhat differently for men than for women: labour-market resources were significant for men and social resources were important for women. Conclusions: Main findings: higher education is positively linked to less psychological distress, and the link can somewhat be understood through the mechanisms of social and labour-market resources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2014
Keyword
education, labour market resources, longitudinal cohort study, psychological distress, social resources
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87643 (URN)10.1177/1403494813511559 (DOI)000331371600006 ()
Available from: 2014-04-09 Created: 2014-04-07 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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