Education: The Great Equalizer

The focus on education cuts across all aspects of life including income and health. From an essay by Richard W. Riley, the former U.S. Secretary of Education, “If you do not graduate from high school, you are likely to earn less money and struggle to make ends meet, work longer hours and maybe even two jobs just to feed your family, and live in a compromised neighborhood without access to healthy food. Simply put, you aren’t likely to be as healthy as a college educated professional.”

Need proof? Consider this: The American Human Development Project reports that “Research overwhelmingly points to the dominant role of education in increasing life span. In fact, those who acquire education beyond high school have an average life expectancy 7 years longer than those whose education stops with high school.”

Take a look at the chart of information presented by the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. For both men and women, more education typically means longer life. The Commission to Build a Healthier America reports, “In the United States overall, nearly 16% of adults ages 25 years and older have not completed high school, 30% have no schooling beyond high school, 27% have attended but not completed college, and 28% are college graduates.”

What does this all mean?

  • Education can lead to improved health by increasing health knowledge and healthy behaviors.
  • Greater educational attainment leads to better employment opportunities and higher income, which are linked with better health.
  • Education is linked with social and psychological factors that affect health.

JahKiya Bell, MNM and Bridget Healy, MNM, MPA
Community Investment
Heart of Florida United Way


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