Life Expectancy Linked to Education

Notebook, tape measure, and green apple

A new study has found a correlation between education and life expectancy.
Image: Shutterstock

Life expectancy around the world has risen since the middle of the 20th century, but that increase has not been uniform around the world. “Developed” nations tend to have greater life expectancy at birth than do less developed nations, and there are a lot of factors involved. One factor that, until recently, hasn’t been given a lot of attention is education.

According to researchers from Slovenia, education correlates well with life expectancy, in that nations with broader access to education have children with a greater chance of living into old age. There are a number of reasons why this might be true. Educated women are less likely to become infected with diseases like HIV and have a better grasp on things like nutrition. Furthermore, the children of educated parents generally attend higher education in greater numbers, meaning that their kids will subsequently have a better life expectancy and so on down the line.

Teen pregnancy also correlates to education, in that less educated teenage girls are at a higher risk of becoming pregnant, and their children tend to have a lower life expectancy.

The onus isn’t entirely on educating children, though. Researchers also found that continuing education was important to high life expectancy. Continual education is important, especially in terms of things like health care, because science and society change at a faster rate than they did in the 20th century or before. New discoveries about what is or isn’t healthy can impact how long a person lives, as can keeping up with current technology in order to not be left behind while employers move ahead.

Access to medical care, or even basic needs like food and shelter, also contributes to life expectancy, and more educated individuals tend to have access to better jobs, allowing both them and their children to live longer, healthier lives.

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