The Causal Effect of Education on Farm-related Disability: Evidence from a Compulsory Schooling Reform in Taiwan

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We investigate the causal effect of education on the incidence and severity of farm-related disability. Our dataset is comprised of 75,708 farmers drawn from the Taiwanese Agriculture Census supplemented with administrative data on farmer disability. Approximately 46% of the farmers in our sample were affected by legislation expanding compulsory schooling from the primary school level to the junior high school level. Utilizing the compulsory schooling reform as a natural experiment for identification, we estimated an instrumental variable two-part model of the incidence and severity of disability, where the latter is measured using the number of disabled days for farmers aged from 35 to 45. We find that greater educational attainment significantly reduced the likelihood of farm-related disability as well as the severity of disability. Two potential mechanisms for this effect were fewer on-farm work days and less use of chemical inputs to farm production among more educated farmers.

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