We have been led to believe that our modern lifestyle, medical advances and high comfort make us live longer than our ancestors. That is true, but not for all. The latest study published in the journal Health Affairs found that the education level greatly influences how long we are going to live.
Education and longevity
Even with the excellent health care, abundance of food and relative security, Americans who did not finish high school can expect to live no longer than people in the 1950s and 1960s. It gets even worse if they are black. Highly educated white men will live about 14 years longer than poorly educated black men. When it comes to women, the difference between the longevity of white highly educated women and poorly educated black women is about 10 years.
Scientists believe that one possible reason for such huge disparity in the longevity between educated and uneducated people is prevalence of obesity among uneducated, particularly black, Americans. Obesity has latent, delayed effect on the longevity because of related health issues caused by it, such as diabetes.
The gap is increasing
The gaps between educated and uneducated people is increasing, particularly since the 1990″s, and we can now say that there are two Americas: one that is doing well and enjoying health and longevity, and other that is living shorter than 50 years ago, and is getting worse.
The study was lead by S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and funded by The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society. Scientists concluded the obvious: the solution for the increasing longevity gap is to promote lifelong education. They did not suggest how, and the solution might be long in the coming, considering that the education level is closely linked to the economic status. And how the economic situation is going to be solved is is anyone’s guess.