The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Staying in school lengthens life

By Susan Tallant/editor-in-chief

Congratulations, students. By going to school this year, you have increased your life expectancy by one and a half years.

Studies link longevity to education, according to a Jan. 3 article in The New York Times by Gina Kolata.
“The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education,” Kolata said about the findings. “[Education] is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.”

James Smith, a health economist at the RAND Corporation, was exploring the mysteries of aging when he discovered education is consistently linked to longer lives and has been for years.

“Giving people more Social Security income, or less for that matter, will not really affect people’s health,” he said in Kolata’s article. “It is a good thing to do for other reasons but not for health.”

Smith, whose findings came as a surprise, said money pales in comparison to the education factor and health insurance is vastly overrated in policy debate.

“A few years of school is associated with extra years of life and vastly improves health decades later, in old age,” he said.

Adriana Lleras-Muney, a Columbia University graduate student, made the discovery while researching for her doctoral dissertation in economics.

Lleras-Muney’s research, which later appeared in the Review of Economic Studies, revealed life expectancy at age 35 was extended by one and one half years simply by going to school for one extra year. 

“You might think that forcing someone to go to school who does not want to be there may not be the same thing as going to school because you want to,” she said. “That did not seem to be the case.”

One possible explanation, Lleras-Muney points out about the findings, is because less educated people are less able to plan for the future and are less educated about health issues such as nutrition and smoking risks.

Obviously other factors are involved when calculating life spans, but the role of education is getting a closer look by scientists, giving us one more reason to continue learning.

Enjoy your semester. You have made a wise choice.

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