A debate has gone on for some time as to whether or not race entered into the factors of how long someone might live. Although this position was held for some time, it has changed in recent years. It is now believed that education has a greater effect on longevity than any other factor.
Wealth also was believed to have a part in their longevity effect. Researchers thought that if people had more wealth that they would live longer. It would enable them to afford better food, get medical treatment when needed, and have less stress. This idea was also proved wrong.
It was also found that children who had mothers with more education were more likely to survive. While wealth did raise the lifespan some, the increase did not equal the effect that education had on the longevity of life. The impact of wealth, when compared with the impact of education, was small – almost negligent.
The effect of education on longevity was discovered sometime after the U.S. Surgeon General warned people of the dangers connected with smoking in 1964. In response to this announcement, more people with a higher educational level quit smoking than did those with a lower level of education. Researchers were surprised by how large a difference education had on who quit smoking versus those that did not.
Those with a higher level of education are more likely to learn of harmful health effects from many causes – and believe them – that they are better able to make adjustments that will enable them to live longer.
The dividing line in the level of education appeared in those who had more than 12 years of education. When looking at people in the black and white races, this level of education seemed to be the single marker of who could be expected to live longer.
The lifespan was calculated for those at the age of 25 and how long they might be expected to live. As of 2000, people at age 25 with more education could be expected to live to 82, but those with less education would only live to about 75. It means education creates a six-year advantage in longevity.
Having more education seems to enable people to make better decisions in life. They may also be more informed with factors that affect how they eat, handle issues that will affect health such as smoking or drinking, and avoid other things that may shorten their life.
One of the major causes of death among the less-educated is smoking. This habit leads to multiple causes of death, including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and other types of cancer.
Even though education affects longevity today, various factors may affect the amount of change in the future. It could include the content of education, which changes from year to year, and the amount of wealth available to the individual. The cost of medical care continues to rise, which can also affect longevity outcomes.
Current studies reveal that if you want to live longer, you need to get some education beyond a high school diploma. In many cases, having a higher education can lead to more income, and having both factors in your life will help you live longer and enjoy life more.