A new study found that lack of education affects the lifespan of individuals in the U.S. The researchers from the University of Colorado Denver, New York University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mentioned that a 10-year reduction in lifespan, comparable to the effects of smoking, may also be true for those whose educational attainments are rather low.
In the U.S. and many other nations, premature mortality rates have been associated with lack of education and more improved survival rates with higher educational achievement in recent birth cohorts. However, the exact numbers or mortality rates due to low education in the U.S. are not precisely recorded.
The researchers collated data from the National Health Interview Survey from 1986-2004, particularly related to anticipated deaths through 2006, and specific-time survival models in relation to projected education and mortality rates among the different cohort groups. This information was studied alongside the American Community Survey data on the 2010 U.S. population to measure the attributable death estimates in a year.
Using the differences of educational attainment from the 1925, 1935, and 1945 cohorts, the researchers determined three main groups and predicted the deaths, which may be derived from those whose education is less than the high school level versus those who finished high school, those who have some college education versus those who have a baccalaureate degree and finally, those who have any education less than a baccalaureate degree versus those who have a baccalaureate degree.
The findings of the study, published in the open access journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) One, show that if the 2010 study population would have the same educational inequalities in mortality with the 1945 cohort group, 145,243 deaths could be connected to those with less than a high school degree versus those who finished high school; 110,068 deaths could be linked to those with some baccalaureate education versus those who graduated college; and 554,525 deaths could be associated with those who have any education less than a college degree versus those who finished a baccalaureate degree. The attributable mortality was doubled with the expanded educational disparities between the 1925 and 1945 cohort groups.
"In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviors such as diet, smoking and drinking," says Virginia Chang, co-author and associate professor of public health at New York University's School of Culture, Education and Human Development and College of Global Public Health. "Education - which is a more fundamental, upstream driver of health behaviors and disparities - should also be a key element of U.S. health policy."
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