People with less education are living sicker, shorter lives than ever before

January 8, 2014 by Tyler Weingart

(Medical Xpress)—Americans without a high school diploma are living sicker, shorter lives than ever before, and the links between education and health matter more now than they have in the past, says a new policy brief and video released today by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

While overall has increased throughout the industrialized world, Americans without a education are being left behind. In fact, life expectancy is now decreasing for whites with fewer than 12 years of education – especially white women. Additionally, lower rates of education tend to translate into much higher rates of disease and disability and place greater strains on mental .

Overall, people with less education face a serious health disadvantage. They are:

  • Living shorter lives. In the United States, 25-year-olds without a can expect to die nine years sooner than .
  • Living with greater illness. By 2011, the prevalence of diabetes had reached 15 percent for adults without a , compared with 7 percent for college graduates.

The policy brief highlights research suggesting that education is important not only for saving lives, but also for saving dollars and creating economic productivity.

People with fewer years of education accrue higher medical costs and are less productive at work, which means that inadequate education is costing employers. The health benefits of a good education include greater access to health insurance, medical care and higher earnings to afford a healthier lifestyle and to reside in healthier homes and neighborhoods.

An animated video, also released today, helps illustrate these connections and explains the impact of decreased education on society.

The video will load shortly

"I don't think most Americans know that children with less education are destined to live sicker and die sooner," said Steven H. Woolf, M.D., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health. "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."

Through the center's new Education and Health Initiative (EHI), Woolf and his colleagues hope to sound the alarm and raise awareness about the important connections between education and health. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the EHI will be releasing three follow-up briefs demonstrating why an investment in education is an investment in health.

Explore further: Study finds lack of education widens gap in life expectancy

More information: Read the entire policy brief here: societyhealth.vcu.edu/DownFile.ashx?fileid=1739

Related Stories

Study finds lack of education widens gap in life expectancy

September 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—The MacArthur Research Network on Aging, chaired by Dr. John W. Rowe, has published its latest research showing a widening gap in life expectancy between Americans with higher education and those without ...

Understanding where health disparities begin

October 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- The strongest solutions to health disparities lie outside the health care system — in the community and the policies that affect living conditions, according to a new article co-authored by a Virginia ...

More education, not income, fights obesity

September 13, 2013
Educational status may protect women living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas against obesity, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Lowering the cost of health care requires lowering the cost of medical education

October 30, 2013
The costs of medical education must be reduced as part of efforts to reign in health care costs more generally, according to a Perspective published online this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The currently high ...

More education, socioeconomic benefits equals longer life

August 6, 2012
Despite advances in health care and increases in life expectancy overall, Americans with less than a high school education have life expectancies similar to adults in the 1950s and 1960s.

A matter of miles: New maps to show differences in life expectancy within US cities

September 5, 2013
Where you live can make a big difference in how long you live, even compared to your neighbors in an adjacent zip code. Maps released by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health at the request of ...

Recommended for you

Artificial light from digital devices lessens sleep quality

July 28, 2017
There's no doubt we love our digital devices at all hours, including after the sun goes down. Who hasn't snuggled up with a smart phone, tablet or watched their flat screen TV from the comfort of bed? A new study by researchers ...

Study finds walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 28, 2017
Research led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests ...

Dulled taste may prompt more calories on path to obesity

July 28, 2017
Cornell University food scientists have found that people with a diminished ability to taste food choose sweeter - and likely higher-calorie - fare. This could put people on the path to gaining weight.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.