BLOG: Research: Get an education, live longer

Research is basically showing that even though there has been a lot of progress in medicine, poor and less-educated Americans still have significantly lower life expectancies.

For some, not finishing high school is resulting in even lower life expectancy than before, a new study shows, while those with more education in America are showing higher life expectancies than in the 1950s and 1960s.

The head of the new study, Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, says that

“There are essentially two Americas. The most highly educated white men live about 14 years longer than the least-educated black men. The least-educated black women live about 10 years less than the most-educated white women.We must find a way to bring these subgroups of the population back into the present.”

The researchers looked at data and trends in life expectancy between 1990 and 2008 with a focus on the research subjects’ aging, sex, race and education’s impact on their lifespan.

According to the study, Americans who did not graduate from High school have life expectancies like those of adults who lived 50 to 60 years ago.

Olshansky pointed out that, “Over the last couple of decades, almost all longevity boats have risen, but there have been some subgroups that have had a drop in life expectancy. It’s as if Americans with the least education are living in a time warp. The least-educated black men are living in 1954, black women in 1962, white women in 1964 and white men in 1972.”

Researchers thought it was surprising that White women who did not have a high school diploma had a life expectancy 5 years lower than those that did in 1990.

The report showed that Black women who were the least educated experience more obesity and worse health as a result. The least educated White women appeared to be more affected by lifestyle choices such as smoking and abusing alcohol and drugs.

The two major factors that researchers noted affect life expectancy were education and socioeconomic status. They drew the conclusion that lifelong education was  a key factor in closing the gap in Americans’ life spans.

The 360 Experiment

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