Duration of Education and Back Pain: Lessons From English Schooling Reforms

Takaaki Ikeda, Yusuke Matsuyama, Masayasu Murakami, Ken Osaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to examine the associations of increases in the duration of education with back pain using the exogenous variation generated by the English schooling reforms of 1947 and 1972. We analyzed cross-sectional data derived from 9 waves (waves 1-9; 2002-2019) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. An instrumental variables regression using 2-stage least squares with the 2-way cluster-robust standard error was used. The mean severity of back pain, measured using the Numerical Rating Scale, was used as the outcome. A total of 22,868 observations from 5,070 participants were included (the 1947 reform = 16,565 observations from 3,231 participants, mean age = 74.5 years; the 1972 reform = 6,303 observations from 1,839 participants, mean age = 59.3 years). The schooling reforms significantly extended years of school attendance by a mean of 0.57 years for the 1942 reform cohort and 0.66 years for 1972 reform cohort. For participants born within 5 years of the pivotal cohorts, an additional year of education decreased the severity of back pain by 0.78 points (95% confidence interval: 0.65, 0.92) for the 1972 reform cohort. Our finding underscores the importance of the length of education in the reduction of back pain in middle-aged individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb 1


  • causal inference
  • educational attainment
  • instrumental variable
  • schooling reforms
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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