LIVING LONGER BY STAYING IN SCHOOL:
The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education. It is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.
Year after year, in study after study, says Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, education â€œkeeps coming up.â€
And, health economists say, those factors that are popularly believed to be crucial â€” money and health insurance, for example, pale in comparison.
Dr. Smith explains: â€œGiving people more Social Security income, or less for that matter, will not really affect peopleâ€™s health. It is a good thing to do for other reasons but not for health.â€
Health insurance, too, he says, â€œis vastly overrated in the policy debate.â€
Instead, Dr. Smith and others say, what may make the biggest difference is keeping young people in school. A few extra years of school is associated with extra years of life and vastly improved health decades later, in old age. . . . â€œIf you were to ask me what affects health and longevity,â€ says Michael Grossman, a health economist at the City University of New York, â€œI would put education at the top of my list.â€
I’m not sure that the causal relationship is there. It may just be that idiots are more likely to drop out of school, and also to die young as a consequence of idiotic behavior. As John Wayne said, life is tough, and it’s tougher when you’re stupid.