A recent study out of the University of Colorado and reported by The Denver Post draws the conclusion that if people have more education they live longer.
The study’s authors interpret the data to indicate the health risks of smoking are comparable to the health risks of a low level of education. The study infers that out of a sample of about one million people 145,243 deaths could have been saved in 2010 if adults who had not completed high school continued on to earn a higher education degree.
“Our results suggest that policies and interventions that improve educational attainment could substantially improve survival in the US population,” explains Patrick Krueger, from the University ofColorado Boulder. He continues, “Education is important because it sets the stage for a person’s life. It is an early intervention that helps define a person’s career trajectory and income. Education allows people to improve their health in a lot of ways.”
However, economists are not so quick to jump on the correlation and cause bandwagon. Many economists say that attaining college or graduate education serves as a signaling to future employers, mates, creditors that a person sees themselves as worth investing in. The diploma(s) serve more as differentiation that a person is to be taken seriously as a better risk or investment.
Education public policy advocates are likely to extrapolate from this study’s conclusions the need for more publicly provided, if not mandatory, higher education. However, given the economists’ viewpoint more study into motivational factors and personal lifestyle choices is required before a study making such assertions can be taken too seriously.