A healthier, longer life: maybe the best argument for sending the kids to college

There’s been a lot written about how people with college degrees outearn those with only a high-school diploma, and how high-school grads outearn those who didn’t finish school. But did you know that educated Americans are less likely to be obese and suffer from chronic illnesses than those who have less education? The evidence is pretty darn compelling–compelling enough to get me to stop complaining quite so much about how much my kids’ college tuition is.

The study, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed the role that socioeconomic status plays in our health. Here are a few fascinating highlights:

  • In 2006, the average 25-year-old man without a high school diploma had a life expectancy 9.3 years less than men with a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Women without a high school diploma had a life expectancy 8.6 years less than those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • In households where the head had less than a high school education, 24% of boys and 22% of girls were obese. But in households where the head had a Bachelor’s degree or higher education, only 11% of boys and 7% of girls were obese.
  • From 2007-2010, 39-43% of women 25 or older without a Bachelor’s degree were obese, while only 25% of women with a Bachelor’s or higher were obese.
  • Children living at below 200% of the poverty level (which, for a family of four, is about $23,000 per year) were nearly 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD than kids living at above 200% of the poverty level.
  • In 2010, 31% of adults 25–64 years of age with a high school diploma or less education were current smokers, compared with 24% of adults with some college and just 9% of adults with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • In 2010, adults 18–64 with a family income below 200% of the poverty level (again, the poverty level for a family of four is about $23,000/year), were three times more likely to be uninsured as families earning 200-399 percent of the poverty level—and six times as likely to be uninsured than those earning 400% of the poverty level.
  • In 2010, about one-quarter of adults 18–64 with a family income below 200% of the poverty level did not get or delayed seeking needed medical care due to cost, compared with 15% of those with a family income of 200%–399% and only 7% of those at or above 400%
  • In 2002–2004, babies of mothers who had less than a Bachelor’s degree were nearly 70% less likely to be breastfed for at least three months than babies of mothers who had a Bachelor’s degree.

The study makes for some interesting—and sobering—reading. You can get the full report here.

Whatcha think?

%d bloggers like this: