Friday, April 5, 2013

Go to college and live longer

As a college professor it is very much in my own interest that people attend college.  But there are other good reasons. Graduating from college is associated with improved employment opportunities and increased earnings.  A recent paper also highlights the longer term health benefits and mortality rate. Kasey Buckles, an economics professor at the University of Notre Dame and three colleagues looked at the effect of college graduation on how long people live. Looking at the mortality records from 1981 to 2007, for white men born in the USA between 1942 and 1953, they show that completing college reduces mortality substantially, close to thirty per cent relative to the mean. For cancer deaths it means a reduction of 25.9 per 1,000. For the entire cohort, if you did not go to college you were 2.21 times more likely to die by 2007 than those who did go.

Many factors are at work. College educated folks may be less likely to smoke or drink excessively- although that was not my own undergraduate experience. Differential incomes play a major role; the better off have better health insurance, better health provision and better health outcomes. While social scientists unravel the dense circuitry of causal connections, remember, graduating from college really is good for you. You live longer.  

Buckles, K., Malamud, O., Morrill, M. S., and Wozniak, A. (2012). The Effect of College Education on Health (No. 6659). Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).