A study in The Lancet Public Health journal underscores the link between education and life expectancy, suggesting that each year of schooling positively impacts longevity, akin to adopting healthy lifestyle choices.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found a 2 per cent reduction in the risk of death with each additional year of education, emphasising the life-saving benefits across age groups and demographics.
The research identified data from 59 countries and included over 10,000 data points collected from more than 600 published articles.
The study equates not attending school to health risks comparable to heavy alcohol consumption or smoking. The findings emphasise the global need for increased education accessibility to address persistent health inequalities.
Not going to school at all is as bad as drinking five or more alcoholic drinks per day or smoking 10 cigarettes a day for 10 years, the researchers said.
“Education is important in its own right, not just for its benefits on health, but now being able to quantify the magnitude of this benefit is a significant development,” said study co-author Terje Andreas Eikemo from the NTNU.
While the benefits of education are greatest for young people, those older than 50 and even 70 years still benefit from the protective effects of education, the researchers said.