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Health Affairs Journal has published a study done by David Cutler, dean for social sciences at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University and Ellen Meara, assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, who examined a link between education and life expectancy.

The study revealed that the life expectancy increases in proportion to the level of education a person receives. In the last two decades, life expectancy has increased in educated people while those whose education did not exceed high school did not benefit from a prolonged lifespan.

The researchers did the study by analyzing death certificate data and information from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. During the 1980-1990 period, people who had received education experienced about a year and half of increased life expectancy but the less educated experienced an increase of only half a year. In the following decade, from 1990 to 2000, life expectancy has increased additional 1.6 years for the educated people but remained fixed for the less educated.

The study showed that smoking-related illnesses like lung cancer, emphysema, as well as heart disease and other cancers could be blamed for the mortality gap between the better educated and the less educated. Surveys conducted about the smoking and quitting showed that less educated people have not given up smoking to the same extent as those with more education.


Better educated people also make more money, and they live a more comfortable and less risky lifestyle than less educated people. They also have the kind of access to healthcare that less educated people often don't have. This is often the case in the United States.