This report investigates the effects of individualsʼ skills on wider outcomes related to health, particularly behaviours towards smoking, drinking, and body weight. All three behaviours have an impact on individual health: long-term use of cigarettes and alcohol have well-documented physical effects, such as pulmonary and liver diseases, and being overweight, particularly being obese, has been linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as inducing increased risk of diabetes.
The main aim of the report is to investigate how better skills (measured by basic skills testsʼ scores and highest qualification attained) are associated with a healthier lifestyle. One novelty of this report lies in the possibility to explore the differential role of formal education and actual basic skills as assessed by literacy and numeracy tests.
Previous research has mainly focused on one of these variables only, failing to individuate the possible cumulative and interactive role of education and basic skills in affecting health behaviours. Moreover, we extend previous analysis by investigating not only the link between human capital and the occurrence of health-risky behaviours but also by exploring the link between human capital and the amount of alcohol and cigarettes consumed. Finally we also investigate how human capital is associated with changing behaviours towards health over the age range 16 to 34.