Education Is Good For You

 Education is good for you and we all get some even if it is at the hands of our parents and peer group. In general we expect the population to go to school, learn lots of good stuff and then make a good living with that knowledge so that we can all enjoy the good life.

Way back in the last century, the Swedish government decided to run an experiment to see if education and the subsequent mortality of the student could be causally linked. So for the years 1949 to 1962, the government picked out students in a large number of places to get an extra year of compulsory school time,or not. They had to have controls.

They have had a long wait for the results to come in and finally, Lager and Torssander have crunched the numbers and reported out in last week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. There were a deal of numbers to crunch.1,247,867 in all with 92,351 now dead.

Up to 40 the mortality rate was unaffected by education, which is interesting as I suppose they were all pretty healthy and were careful drivers. However, after 40 things appeared to change. Compulsory schooling seemed to be a good thing. The hazard ratio as a percentage was down to about 94%, so it’s a small advantage, but maybe worth having. Vocational training on top eased the hazard ratio, again as a percentage, down to 92%.

With any population there is a spread of responses and the variation was around ±4% so the authors conclude that the length of your education doesn’t really do anything for your life expectancy – relative to your peer group of course. Perhaps they should start a new study in a less developed part of the world than Sweden.

  1. A.C.J.Lager & J.Torssander,Proc. Nat. Academy Sci. (2012) DOI:10.1073/pnas.110589109

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