Study shows longevity linked to education

Apr 5, 2012 Issues: Education, Higher Education


It’s no secret that Americans are living longer. And it’s no secret that a correlation between education and lifespan exists.  A new report by researchers from the University of Wisconsin takes a detailed look at this correlation across the country’s more than 3,000 counties. 

Using government data to rank each American county by health indicators (e.g., obesity, premature death) and considering factors like the presence of fast-food restaurants, researchers found that the unequal distribution of education among towns and cities has led to an increasingly uneven playing field of well-being in the country. A recent New York Times article highlights the report’s findings:

Its findings show that the link between college education and longevity has grown stronger over time. Premature death rates differed sharply across counties, and a lack of college education accounted for about 35 percent of that variation from 2006 to 2008, the most recent years available, said Bridget Booske Catlin, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, who directed the study. That was up from 30 percent over an equivalent period seven years earlier.

So one could arguably add longevity to the long list of reasons – from sustainable economic growth, to global competitiveness, to national security – for why ensuring access to a quality higher education matters.  As if there weren’t enough reasons already.  And yet the House just passed an extreme GOP budget that threatens cutting 400,000 students from the Pell program and fails to provide relief from a pending interest rate hike on student loans.  That interest rate hike will take effect in July if Congress fails to act, throwing 7 million Americans into deeper debt.