Does education Improve life expectancy? Exploring the effect of education on early death

Does education Improve life expectancy? Education has been shown to have a significant impact on life expectancy and early death. Studies have found that higher levels of education are associated with lower mortality rates and a reduced risk of early death. For example, a study found that each year spent studying decreases the risk of early death by 2%[1].

Another study found that rising education levels correlate with lower adult mortality, resulting in an average 1.9% decrease.

In the United States, there are substantial and increasing educational differences in adult life expectancy. A study found that estimated life expectancy at age 25 years declined overall between 2010 and 2017, but it declined among persons without a 4-year college degree and increased among college-educated individuals [2].

This study also found that the inequality in the mean number of life years lost between ages 25 and 84 years increased among white men and women, with the college-educated group continuing to improve.

However, the relationship between education and early death is not always straightforward. For example, a study by Angus Deaton and Anne Case found that the divide in premature death is not between college graduates and non-graduates, but rather between high school dropouts and everyone else.

They highlighted that the least-educated Americans, particularly those without college degrees, have seen their life expectancy outcomes diverge from those of more-educated Americans.

In conclusion, education has a significant impact on life expectancy and early death. Higher levels of education are associated with lower mortality rates and a reduced risk of early death. However, the relationship between education and early death is complex, and the divide in premature death is not always between college graduates and non-graduates.

Why Education Matters?

While the link between education and health is well-established, this study quantifies its global impact, bringing it to the forefront of public health concerns. It stands alongside crucial factors like technological advancements and clean water access as a key determinant of well-being.

Beyond health benefits, education empowers individuals, especially women, across socioeconomic levels. Recognizing this, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals prioritize universal education access. Studies have shown that maternal education alone reduces child mortality by 3%, highlighting the ripple effect of learning.

The researchers meticulously combed through major databases, identifying articles spanning decades and numerous countries. They meticulously extracted data on education and mortality for over 10,000 observations, forming the most comprehensive analysis of its kind.

Their findings are striking:

  • Each year of schooling lowers the risk of death by 1.9%.
  • An adult with 12 years of education lives, on average, 24.5% longer than someone with no education.
  • This effect is most pronounced in younger adults (2.9% reduction per year of schooling) but persists throughout life.

While the protective effect of education holds true across genders and socioeconomic backgrounds, further research is needed to explore potential variations. Importantly, the study emphasizes that education inequalities in mortality remain consistent across age groups and over time, highlighting the need for equitable access to knowledge.

The study’s findings resonate with other high-impact social determinants, suggesting that prioritizing education can yield significant future health benefits. In fact, the mortality risk gap between someone with no education and someone with 18 years of schooling is comparable to that between a smoker and a non-smoker. This underscores the critical importance of education as a global health goal.

This study strengthens the evidence against early death linked to low education. The protective effect of education remains constant across various contexts, underscoring its potential to combat mortality disparities. This calls for sustained investment in educational institutions worldwide, not just as a means to knowledge, but as a vital investment in public health for generations to come.

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