What does it take to live a long life? Is it money, no stress, a loving and supportive family and lots of friends? All of these help, but they are not the answers to the average lifespan. It is a proven fact that there are groups in different clusters that live longer than others. The affluent live longer than the poor, blacks have shorter lifespans than whites, and women live longer than men. Average lifespan is a variable: you have the average lifespan for the nations, then average lifespan for subsets based on race, education and geography and even religious activity. The one variable that has been studied and brings about longevity is education. Education may be more important than race and socioeconomic status when contributing to average lifespans.
Education and Average Lifespan
Lifespan as an average in the United States is 78.7 years, but there are many variables that go into that statistic. 78.7 years is the average citizen, with an average income, and an average education who has lived an average life and taken care of themselves on an average basis.
Studies show that higher income people live longer than those with lower incomes. In the early 1970s that gap started to expand even more and further studies revealed that education was the key. Education is connected with lifetime income and it has been found that ill health does not play a large part in mortality statistics. As an interesting statistic, in 1990 twenty-year old white women lived an average of 81 years and those with no education lived only 79 years. However, by 2008 the gap was wider than five years.
Unfortunately average lifespan is still exhibiting the same patterns. Those in the upper regions of socioeconomic status have a continually rising life expectancy. Those who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale have life expectancies that are actually declining. Health, economies and diet, lifestyle patterns all contribute to the average lifespan, but education has a direct positive effect on health and lifestyles. Education tends to give people the tools to cope with stress and manage chronic diseases. Another factor is the realization that education will provide better paying jobs and higher income. Boosting education has important benefits in addition to longer lifespan; knowledge can bring lifestyle power.
Life insurance availability and money sound good, but education is the key to longevity. Stay in school and your health will be higher and your life expectancy longer. In 1999 three economists noted that if you want to improve longevity and health invest in education rather in medical care. This is a controversial idea, but one that seems to hold up. A hundred years ago when compulsory schooling changed from six to seven years the life expectancy went from 35 years of age to 36 ½ years.
Those who are less educated are less able to plan for the future and tend toward instant gratification. In other words those with less education tended not to see the big picture. Today is today and tomorrow may never come. Lack of education does not equate to being unable to learn; it just means that there may be no immediate tools to plan for the future or see the bigger picture. This can decrease your desire to live longer.