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Unformatted text preview: ISSUE BRIEF 6: EDUCATION AND HEALTH SEPTEMBER 2009 Education Matters for Health Everyone knows that without a good education, prospects for a good job with good earnings are slim. Few people think of education as a crucial path to health, however. Yet a large body of evidence stronglyand, with very rare exceptions, consistentlylinks education with health, even when other factors like income are taken into account. 1-6 By education we mean educational attainment, or the years or level of overall schooling a person has, rather than instruction on specific health topics like hygiene, diet or exercise; while the quality of education also is important for health outcomes, this information is more difficult to measure and thus typically unavailable. People with more education are likely to live longer, to experience better health outcomes ( Figures 1 & 2 ), and to practice health-promoting behaviors such as exercising regularly, refraining from smoking, and obtaining timely health care check-ups and screenings. 4, 7-9 Educational attainment among adults is linked with childrens health as well, beginning early in life: babies of more-educated mothers are less likely to die before their first birthdays, and children of more- educated parents experience better health ( Figures 3 & 4 ). Education can influence health in many ways. This issue brief examines three major interrelated pathways through which educational attainment is linked with health: health knowledge and behaviors; employment and income; and social and psychological factors, including sense of control, social standing and social support. In addition, this brief explores how educational attainment affects health across generations, examining the links between parents educationand the social and economic advantages it representsand their childrens health and social advantages, including opportunities for educational attainment. A large body of evidence links education with health, even when other factors like income are taken into account. Page 2 People with more education are likely to live longer and experience better health outcomes. 72.7 84.1 70.4 70.6 69.4 62.2 67.2 59.4 60.9 50.0 54.7 54.1 48.6 57.5 41.4 43.6 41.0 39.5 41.8 26.7 20 40 60 80 100 Black, Non-Hispanic Hispanic Asian American Indian or Alaska Native Other PERCENT OF ADULTS, AGES 25-74 YEARS, IN LESS THAN VERY GOOD HEALTH* Figure 2. Less education is linked with worse health. Across racial or ethnic groups, adults with greater educational attainment are less likely to rate their health as less than very good. Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, 2005-2007. Based on self-report and measured as poor, fair, good, very good or excellent....
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