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Life Expectancy Tied to Education
Date:3/11/2008

8 and the other from 1990 to 2000.

The researchers found that in both datasets, life expectancy rose but only for people with more than 12 years of education. For those with 12 years of education or less, life expectancy remained flat through the periods.

When the researchers compared data from the 1980s to data from the 1990s, people with more education had almost a year and half of increased life expectancy. But, for people with less education, life expectancy increased by only six months.

In the period of 1990 to 2000, the better educated saw their life expectancy increase by 1.6 years. For the less educated, life expectancy didn't increase in all.

When the researchers looked at gender differences, they found that less-educated women actually had a decline in life expectancy. In 2000, those women with more than 12 years of education by age 25 could expect to live five years longer than less-educated women, the study found.

The challenge, Meara said, is to figure out ways to extend life expectancy of all groups in U.S society. "We need to get a better understanding of how we can extend these great things we're learning about how to lead healthier lives into these groups," she said.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, thinks fighting poverty and improving education are key to increasing life expectancy among less-advantaged Americans.

"Disparities in health are a major challenge in the United States," he said. "The less affluent and less educated are also, invariably, less healthy."

Initiatives that target health disparities are always welcome, but they may not go far enough if they don't relieve underlying discrepancies in educational or economic status, Katz said.

"Despite efforts throughout the 1980s and 1990s to reduce the disproportionate mortality and morbidity burden experienced by ethnic minorities and
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