Going to university could extend your life by adding 1.3 years

Going to university could help you to live longer as scientists discover every extra step of education adds 1.37 years to your life expectancy

  • Researchers combed through data of more than 5,000 American people 
  • Race and income were not as strong life predictors as education level
  • Each qualification added around one year and four months to a person’s life  

Staying in school and going to university could add years to your life, a study has shown.

Researchers combed through data of more than 5,000 American people and found those who stayed in education tended to live longer.

Each qualification – such as a degree or masters – added around one year and four months onto a person’s life.

The team said race and money did not prove to be indicators of life expectancy like qualifications did.

Staying in school and going to university could add years to your life, a study has shown

How many years a person lives is related to a long list of factors, including where they live, their ethnicity and employment opportunities.  

Disentangling these variables and assessing their relative impact is a difficult task.

The study led by the Yale School of Medicine and University of Alabama-Birmingham looked at some of the strongest variables.

They collected data for around 5,114 people in four US cities who were recruited for a longevity study 30 years ago. 

A total of 395 people died before they reached their mid 50s.

‘These deaths are occurring in working-age people, often with children, before the age of 60,’ said Dr Brita Roy, corresponding author of the paper. 

Level of education, and not race, was shown to be the best predictor of who would live the longest, researchers reported in the American Journal of Public Health. 


Swiss women live the longest in the world, suggests a review of life expectancies from 15 major countries.

Females living in the land-locked European nation can expect to live for 79.03 years.

Australian women rank second at 78.9 years, with Norway coming in at third place at an average of 78.61 years.

Italy came bottom of the pile for women, with females from the nation famous for its cuisine living until they are 72.14, on average. 

Women in the UK and US have a life expectancy of 76.43 years and 76.08, ranking sixth and eighth, respectively. 

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania revealed Australia tops the charts for male life expectancy at 74.1 years. 

Men in the European countries of Sweden and Switzerland came second (74.02 years) and third place (73.7 years).

Males from sunny Portugal only have a life expectancy of 64.77 years, placing them last out of the 15 countries.  

For men, the UK ranks sixth (72.33 years) and the US fares slightly worse at eighth place (71.57 years).   

The findings were published in the journal Population Studies in August.

Five per cent of those who died were college graduates compared with 13 per cent of those who dropped out of education sooner.  

The mortality rate also showed some clear racial differences – approximately nine per cent of black people died at an early age compared to six per cent of Caucasian people.

However, when looking at race and education at the same time, differences related to race all but disappeared.      

The researchers used a measure called Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) as a projection of life expectancy. 

They said each educational step obtained led to 1.37 fewer years (one year and four months) of lost life expectancy.

‘These findings are powerful,’ Dr Roy said. 

‘They suggest that improving equity in access to and quality of education is something tangible that can help reverse this troubling trend in reduction of life expectancy among middle-aged adults.’

The study goes against stacks of evidence which shows how much money people earn as reliable way of predicting their lifespan.

In England, there is a noticeable gap in life expectancy when looking at rich and poor people.

The life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest women is 7.9 years, and 9.7 years for men, according to a study published in Lancet Public Health which analysed Office for National Statistics data. 

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