9 January 2014, 11:25

Americans with less education have shorter life spans - research

Americans with less education have shorter life spans - research

Americans who have never finished high school are now sicker than ever, and have much shorter life expectancy rates. In fact, those with no high school diploma are expected to die nine years earlier than someone with a college degree. A strong link between health and education are more significant nowadays versus how they were looked at previously according to a policy brief by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Even though the life span in the US is on the rise, Americans who do not have a high school diploma are facing much turmoil in terms of their health. Life expectancy has dipped down for Caucasians, especially white women who do not have 12 years of basic schooling. On top of it all, if low rates of education are present then it usually means higher amounts of diseased and disabled people, thus placing a lot of pressure on a person’s mental health.

Americans that are 25 years of age with no high school diploma are statistically expected to pass away nine years earlier than college graduates would. One vivid illustration of how the land of the free is being affected is by looking at the level of diabetes. By the year 2011, the amount of diabetes had gone up just 7 percent in college graduates versus 15 percent in adults that had not graduated from high school.

Research noted in the policy brief points out that being educated does not only increase the life expectancy rate, but also saves money and makes for a more productive economy. People with very little education face higher medical expenses and are not as productive in the workplace—indicating that poor education is pricey for employers by and large.

On the flipside, health advantages of a decent education offer greater opportunities to get health insurance, and a much better salary to afford a healthier way of living. "I don't think most Americans know that children with less education are destined to live sicker and die sooner," Steven H. Woolf, M.D., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health said, "It should concern parents, and it should concern policy leaders. In today's knowledge economy, policymakers must remember that cutting 'non-health' programs like education will cost us more in the end by making Americans sicker, driving up health costs and weakening the competitiveness of our economy."

Woolf and his team hope, through the center’s Education and Health Initiative, they can help make people more aware of the connection between health and education. In the near future, the facility will distribute briefs on why investing in one’s education is also an investment on their overall health.

Voice of Russia, Medicalxpress.com

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