Education- Good for Your Health!

This week’s readings focus on self-efficacy and its effect on an individual’s perceived ability to reach a desired goal or outcome. I found an interesting NPR article that discusses how increased education leads to higher self-efficacy and better health. The title of the article is “How Education Can Save Half a Million American Lives” and explains that earning a high school diploma is as good for one’s health as quitting smoking. How is this possible? The article is based on a 2015 study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, New York University and the University of Colorado. Researchers examined data from the National Health Interview Survey data and the American Community Survey to calculate American mortality rates of individuals based on three categories: 1.) having less than a high school degree, 2.) having some college rather than a baccalaureate degree, and 3.) have any level of education that is less than a baccalaureate degree, rather than a baccalaureate degree.

Two people working with computer and book.

The study found that “if every adult high school dropout in the 2010 population had a GED or a regular diploma, 145,243 deaths could be averted. Similarly, 110,068 deaths could be avoided for that year if every adult who already had some college finished their bachelor’s degrees. And if everyone in the population got a bachelor’s degree, the total untimely deaths would be reduced by 554,525”. Virginia Chang, co-author of the study notes that the findings are  not intended to make every American get a bachelor’s degree, but to urge the public and policy-makers to recognize the significant influence of education on American lives.

So why is education so important to our health? There are two main reasons. First, individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to attain jobs with higher income and are thus able to eat better and afford health and support services. The second reason is that education enhances cognitive skills and gives people “”more knowledge about health, more access to get that knowledge, more of a sense of agency, more self-efficacy, and better peer connections.” Researchers explain that when new health information is released, people with higher levels of education discover it first and have more access to treatment. The article concludes with a statement by Chang: “”In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviors such as diet, smoking and drinking. . . Education — which is a more fundamental, upstream driver of health behaviors and disparities — should also be a key element of U.S. health policy.”

The article explains that individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to access relevant information and support systems than those with lower levels of education. The ability to acquire knowledge builds confidence and ultimately higher self-efficacy. It seems that increased education (knowledge) leads to a number of positive outcomes for the individual and society as a whole. Economic and educational disparities not only affect a person’s self-efficacy, they also affect their lifespan. Although it is ideal for everyone to receive some sort of higher education, it is not economically feasibility for many Americans; this is a problem that deserves further examination.

Should increased education be considered in policies regarding public health?


8 thoughts on “Education- Good for Your Health!

  1. These are some alarming numbers! The connection between education and self-efficacy are very important in the upbringing of our youth. Education is a great way to build self-efficacy in our youth, simply by learning new material and applying it thru testing, activities, and discussion. Something else to think about is the teachers in these academic environments need to have a strong sense of self-efficacy, because they are the main drivers in the children’s development. in addition to the teacher as an individual, the school as a system is something to think about. If the school as a whole believes that their work is shaping the future in these kids then it can deliver positive outcomes. Sometimes teachers and administration will give up on individuals that do not exactly fit the mold of a perfect student. It is important for these systems to attempt to reach all students while in the institution. After school people are sent out into the world to fend for themselves. The ability to deal with adversity, improve situation, and overall quality of life can be linked to the level of self-efficacy in an individual. Without education the population becomes stagnant with no drive to become better


  2. This was a fascinating article! I honestly never really considered education and health being that closely related. It really does make sense though; when you are more educated you are more likely to use the resources available to you to increase your health and happiness. It is astonishing to me that the U.S. does not support education to a higher degree such as other countries. I guess I should specify, why the U.S. politicians do not support education to a higher degree. Education is free in other countries and it is quite expensive within these walls. The U.S. is obviously a key player in the world’s politics. Does this have anything to do with the idea that we pick and choose who gets to be educated? When everyone in a country is educated, everyone has a little more power. When people are intentionally kept uneducated and uninformed they can’t help themselves let alone their country. Those uneducated people are more inclined to do what they are told rather then think for themselves. The article provided gave us a great deal of information on why education is crucial to health. If this is true, why are we as a society not pushing for more people to be educated? If you don’t have money and a significant amount of it, you can’t get educated to the same degree as others. Is this really what we want?


  3. Education in general is absolutely more beneficial to our wellbeing in so many ways. Through education we are not only aware of the human body anatomy, the nutritional system, and the health preventive methods, but also we achieve more psychological and mental stability. By achieving educational goals and obtaining a degree we feel more confident about ourselves and therefore the level of stress is low knowing that we can get a job that fits our orientation, and that we are able to pay the bills. Education is a direct outcome of how strong is our self-efficacy. The stronger self-efficacy we have the more degrees we have and the more successful we are in society. Through education we are not only healthy but also socially and psychologically stabilized people. Educated people are more conscious about the food they eat, and the life quality they live in general. They know that it is very important to schedule regular physical check ups with their doctor, and work out on a regular basis. Educated people know by going on vacation every once in a while, their mind is refreshed and less prone to psychological breakdowns. By having a healthy mind in a healthy body we are more ready to deal with the challenges in society and reach our goals in life.


  4. do082134

    Edjumacated people ain’t shit. At least this is what my mom might tell me. She might be right. Possibly the healthiest benefit of education is in its ability to convince people to conform and accept certain things, if they are unable to accept these things then they are directed to the proper channels of resistance. Fill out this form, we will get to you when we have the time. The internet is here. Practically any piece of knowledge your heart desires is on this thing ready to be researched in multiple formats from text, video to auditory. Education began as means to get people off of farms and into factory jobs for the most part. It was propaganda and such using the “normal” school method to educate educators as propagandists. Of course this is just pessimistic ramblings, possibly even counter intuitive to the program and our general health so it might be best to ignore these words. They are saying we can avert death with education? If everyone earned a bachelors degree untimely deaths would be reduced by 554,525? Wrong. If everyone in the population earned a bachelors degree it would immediately render the paper even more worthless than it already is. It will make instantly clear that everyone is walking around with the exact same education and are all now equal wage slaves in a system that just cut the very concept of debt slave education out from under itself. The education bubble would finally pop and there would be rioting in the streets where millions of people would be injured and killed.


  5. I certainly think they should be considered! What a great article! I definitely see the connection between the pursuit of education and high self-efficacy. Someone with a PhD isn’t very likely to succumb to peer pressure or feel like they have to fit in because they’re too stupid to stand out. A high-school drop-out, though, may feel very poorly about every decision they make for themselves and their families, wondering if they are strong enough and smart enough to call the shots. They may not feel valuable enough to take care of themselves, to seek out health professionals and to just make sure they are in top shape. We place such a high demand on young people to seek higher education that there is so much added pressure, which can hurt people’s health, physically and mentally.


  6. I find the article and theory interesting; however, I question if the root of longevity is merely connected to higher education or other factors. I consider the many other studies and theories that have looked at possible factors of longevity. Take the town of Loma Linda, California where people live an average of 4-7 years longer than other places in the country. Some of the factors in the study of Loma Linda include dietary choices where most residents are vegetarians or vegans. In addition, most residents are also Seventh-Day Adventists and are very physically active while avoiding excesses like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
    The article “The Lovely Hill: Where People Live Longer and Happier” is definitely worth a read. While education may make some people feel high degrees of self-efficacy, I question if it is the difference that education plays or the control that those people feel in their ability to be in control of their choices. Perhaps something else is at play too, the way in which society recognizes or rewards education with a higher status.
    I guess I would argue with the findings in this particular study as I do not believe that the level of education impacts longevity as much as other factors that impact each person’s daily life—including diet, exercise, spiritual connection, or things like financial well being. Welders, mechanics, and electricians have gained in earning potential because of supply and demand. Having a job that one is driven to do might have as much of an impact as how many years of education the job requires.
    Maybe the most important impact this study could have is how to improve feelings of self-efficacy in earlier educational experiences.


  7. Your post was very interesting to read. The article you found was also very insightful. Understanding and connecting various problems to a common denominator is always a must in order to fix them and help others. The fact that basically half a million lives could have been saved sounds astonishing to me. That is such a huge number that is incredible that just now they noticed it. Even the death of one life is terrible; realizing that so many can be saved is incredible. I like you pose a question and then answer it in your post. Getting jobs with higher incomes is definitely a must to avoid indirect deaths and as you stated the second reason was cognitive skills give people more knowledge about health. All these dots help also increasing the self-efficacy which is crucial for people to improve their lifestyles and be successful in their lives.


  8. Interesting outlook! I would also think that by becoming more educated you are also enhancing the cognitive skills to learn and thus making yourself more likely to absorb information from others and outside resources. The ability to “think” and analyze information, form meaning, and to in turn bring that information to action does not require a degree but earning a degree or going through some kind of education system hopefully strengthens that basis. Interesting though I must say. We do see that many of the uneducated and low earners are often times the ones that are at risk for many of the issues you presented.


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