Special Reports

College Education Linked to Longer Lifespan, Study Says


A new study has found that getting a college degree helps a person live a longer life. Although this doesn't mean college graduates will always outlive those who didn't get a college degree, having a college education is linked to lower incidences of diseases and a longer life.

The study, "The Effect Of College Education On Mortality," found that a college degree isn't necessary to obtain health benefits associated with college education. "An additional year of college decreases mortality rates by 15 to 19 percent by reducing deaths from cancer and heart disease," the study, published in the new Journal of Health Economics, revealed.

Study authors Kasey Buckles of the University of Notre Dame, Andreas Hagemann of the University of Michigan, Ofer Malamud of the University of Chicago, Melinda Morrill of the University of North Carolina, and Abigail Wozniak of Notre Dame, looked into census data from 1980 and Vital Statistics data from 1981-2007 to examine the differences in the years of college completed as an effect of draft-avoidance behavior during the Vietnam War.

The researchers found that college graduates usually live longer than those who only attained a high school diploma. In fact, the difference is astounding: "High school graduates have a mortality rate that is double those with some college or a college degree," the study noted, as per CBS News.

This huge difference could be due to differences in work environments, compensation, and health benefits that a higher education can bring. It could also be brought about by the living conditions of those who attain higher education.

The researchers note that the findings of the study should greatly influence the way people would value health and education. Policymakers "need to look more closely at this education-health relationship, and it is likely to be different in the post-secondary years compared to the compulsory K-12 years," the authors stress in a press release.

The study is also relevant given that today's higher education costs are very discouraging for those who cannot afford it.

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