Educational Attainment and Mortality Risk: A Critical Analysis

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Significant Reduction in Mortality Risk with Education

A recent study, analyzing data from 603 studies globally, has uncovered a noteworthy correlation between education and mortality. The findings, published in The Lancet Public Health, indicate that each year of education is associated with a nearly 2% reduction in mortality risk. Moreover, individuals lacking any formal education face health risks comparable to excessive alcohol consumption or smoking ten cigarettes annually for a decade.

Education’s Impact on Mortality Risk

The meta-analysis revealed compelling insights into the mortality risk associated with varying levels of education. Those who completed primary school experienced a 13% lower risk of death, while secondary school graduates (with 12 years of education) demonstrated a 25% reduction in mortality risk compared to those without education. Individuals with 18 years of education exhibited an even more substantial 34% decrease in mortality risk.

Education as a Protective Factor

The study’s co-authors emphasized the significance of education beyond its traditional benefits, stating that the protective effects of education mirror those of a healthy diet and physical activity. The researchers likened the impact of education to well-known risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption. They stressed that closing the education gap is essential for closing the mortality gap and advocated for international commitments to break the cycle of poverty and preventable deaths.

Implications for Global Health

The study underlines the importance of investing in educational opportunities to promote population health. While education is compulsory in European Union countries, with varying starting ages, the authors emphasized the need for additional research in areas where access to schooling is limited. By increasing global schooling, the researchers believe it is possible to counteract growing mortality disparities, especially in low-income regions.

Study Funding and Conclusion

The Research Council of Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding for the study. Dr. Terje Andreas Eikemo, co-author and head of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Centre for Global Health Inequalities Research, emphasized the groundbreaking nature of quantifying the health benefits associated with education. The authors conclude that education plays a pivotal role in reducing mortality and call for continued efforts to promote educational opportunities worldwide.

SOURCE: Ref Image from CU Denver News

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