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A Little More Education, a Little Longer Life?
Date:5/14/2012

in school. All children born between 1943 and 1955 in 900 municipalities were included in the study. Each year, as the program was phased in, children in some municipalities were included in the new nine-year system and others were not. Those not included were the control group. The researchers gathered data on age of death and causes of mortality until 2007. During the 58-year follow-up period, about 92,000 of those in the study died due to various causes.

The authors found that in what they call "later adulthood," after age 40, the group with the ninth year of education had lower mortality from all diseases than did those with eight years in school. Those people also had a lower death rate from lung cancer, all cancers and accidents. Women with the ninth year of school were less likely to die from ischemic heart disease; men were less likely to die from external causes. All deaths of those in the study, except for the 2 percent to 3 percent who emigrated, were recorded.

Lager said the study shows the reason for lower mortality is not knowledge in and of itself. He speculated that the ninth year helped students develop a different attitude about themselves. "If your life is a little better, you take a little better care of yourself. If you make a little more income, have a job with a little more flexibility, more control of time, then maybe you use less tobacco and alcohol," he said.

Dr. Mark Cullen, a professor of medicine at Stanford University with research interests in social and environmental determinants of health, said "the study adds strong evidence that including additional years in school and higher education has a substantial impact on longevity."

Cullen believes the additional year contributed to the students' long-term ability to understand health messages, think effectively and manage their lives. "We should never discount the direct value of education in helping you interpret information and be involved in your own health,
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