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Improving Health and Social Cohesion through Education

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Today’s global policy climate underlines the importance of better addressing non-economic dimensions of well-being and social progress such as health, social engagement, political interest and crime. Education plays an important role in shaping indicators of progress. However, we understand little about the causal effects, the causal pathways, the role of contexts and the relative impacts that different educational interventions have on social outcomes.

This report addresses challenges in assessing the social outcomes of learning by providing a synthesis of the existing evidence, original data analyses and policy discussions. The report finds that education has the potential to promote health as well as civic and social engagement. Education may reduce inequalities by fostering cognitive, social and emotional skills and promoting healthy lifestyles, participatory practices and norms. These efforts are most likely to be successful when family and community environments are aligned with the efforts made in educational institutions. This calls for ensuring policy coherence across sectors and stages of education.

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The empirical framework

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

This chapter presents an empirical framework that has guided researchers who evaluate the performance of education in fostering the progress of societies. It includes methods that shed light on the features of education systems that have been successful in promoting health and social cohesion. In doing so, it describes well-established methodologies to evaluate whether certain indicators of the education system (e.g. years of education completed, qualifications attained and specific educational interventions received) exhibit causal effects on health and social cohesion. It also describes methodologies for evaluating the pathways through which education has an effect on health and social cohesion. The framework, which helps better interpret and evaluate the emerging literature on the social outcomes of learning, underlies the analyses presented in subsequent chapters.

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