Thursday, January 04, 2007

Education and life-expectancy.

Way back in 2006, we Irked about the relationship between wealth and health. This recent NY Times article offers up a slightly different twist, explaining that even better than wealth at predicting well-being is amount of education. At first blush, this seems to be a redundant finding, until the article explains that education level is not just a stand-in for socioeconomic status. In states where the amount of compulsory education increased, so did life expectancy--the effect was not merely the result of self-selection, with wealthier, healthier people continuing on in school. How have economists explained this correlation? Well, they're not quite sure, but the current prevailing theory is that time spent in school is linked with individuals' ability to delay gratification, a capability which is implicated in avoiding a number of negative health behaviors. If only these things played themselves out on an individual basis, maybe my advanced degree might have led me to avoid the pint of ice cream I just devoured. But seriously, ummmm, now can we start spending more money on education?


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