Lack of education is as deadly as smoking
A new study conducted by New York University, University of Colorado, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill compiled a survey of deaths that could be linked to lack of education.
Currently, about 10% of Americans ages 25-34 do not have a high school degree, and about a quarter have some college but no Bachelor's. Studies have previously shown that higher levels of education lead to higher socioeconomic status and income which in turn affect general well-being and can indicate a longer life.
The study examined over one million people from 1986 to 2006 through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey to analyze which deaths could be attributed to lack of education. In 2010, 145,243 deaths could have been saved if the population who did not finish high school went on to complete a GED.
Cardiovascular disease rates fell for those with higher education, likely tied to the resources attained by a higher socioeconomic level.
Virginia Chang, associate professor of public health at NYU, says, "Broadly, life expectancy is increasing, but those with more education are reaping most of the benefits," Chang said. "In addition to education policy's obvious relevance for improving learning and economic opportunities, its benefits to health should also be thought of as a key rationale. The bottom line is paying attention to education has the potential to substantively reduce mortality."
Facts about education:
In 2010, if 1.3 million students who dropped out had graduated instead, the United States would have seen $337 billion more in earnings.
Today, the United States ranks 36th in educational attainment around the world, down from 1st place 30 years ago.
In 2011, adults with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $81,761, compared to $26,545 for those who did not finish ninth grade.
Cover image: Flickr