"Life expectancy in the United States is on the increase, but only among people with more than 12 years of education, a new study finds," according to a recent HealthDay News article. "In fact, those with more than 12 years of education--more than a high school diploma--can expect to live to 82; for those with 12 or fewer years of education, life expectancy is 75."
The study was published in the most recent issue of Health Affairs.
In my previous posts this week, I have mentioned how life expectancy increases with wealth and how the current generation of senior citizens has more money and education than the generations that preceded them. The combination of education and wealth is obviously a key to the long lives that today's seniors can expect.
Tobacco use plays a large role in the disparity between life expectancy for those with more than a high school education and those whose educations ended with their high school diplomas, the study found. "About one-fifth of the difference in mortality between well-educated and less-educated groups can be accounted for by smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema," according to the HealthDay News article.
"When the researchers compared data from the 1980s to data from the 1990s, people with more education had almost a year and half of increased life expectancy. But, for people with less education, life expectancy increased by only six months," according to the article. "In the period of 1990 to 2000, the better educated saw their life expectancy increase by 1.6 years. For the less educated, life expectancy didn't increase in all."
Between women with education beyond high school and those without, there is an even bigger life expectancy gap.
"Less-educated women actually had a decline in life expectancy. In 2000, those women with more than 12 years of education by age 25 could expect to live five years longer than less-educated women," according to the article.
"Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, thinks fighting poverty and improving education are key to increasing life expectancy among less-advantaged Americans," according to the article.
Perhaps with increased education, poorer Americans could put themselves on the path to higher-paying jobs. Increased education and increased wealth would likely make better health care more accessible to them and extend their life expectancies.