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CEP discussion paper
Anatomy of a Health Scare: Education, Income and the MMR Controversy in the UK
Dan Anderberg, Arnaud Chevalier and Jonathan Wadsworth May 2009
Paper No' CEPDP0929:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: H42; I18

Tags: childhood vaccinations; health outcomes; education

One theory for why there is an education gradient in health outcomes is that more educated individuals more quickly absorb new health-related information. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) controversy provides a case where, for a short period, some publicized research suggested that the particular childhood vaccine could have serious side-effects. As the controversy unfolded, uptake of the vaccine by more educated parents decreased relative to that of less educated parents, turning a positive education gradient into a negative one. We also consider the response in terms of uptake of other childhood vaccines and purchases of alternatives to the MMR.