Study: Dropping Out of High School Can Mean an Earlier Death

Getting a solid education may be a time-consuming endeavor, but the cost of forgoing it is decidedly worse, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) find Americans with less than a high school education have life expectancies similar to adults who lived in the 1950s and 1960s.

Lead author of the study and epidemiology professor, S. Jay Olshansky, explained on the UIC site, "It's as if Americans with the least education are living in a time warp.” 

The study, which was published in Health Affairs, also uncovered an alarming trend: Caucasian women in particular who drop out of high school are dying even sooner than their counterparts did in 1990―five years sooner, as a matter of fact. That means despite medical advances in the last 20 years, this group of women has actually seen their life expectancy shorten over time. 

According to The New York Times, researchers speculate that the reasons behind the shortened life expectancy most likely include a spike in prescription drug overdoses in Caucasian Americans, higher rates of smoking, increased obesity and a steady increase in the number of people who lack health insurance.

Conversely, and to no one’s surprise, the study confirms that educated Americans are enjoying ever-increasing life expectancies.

Professor Olshansky explains that the discrepancy between the educated and the under-educated has created two Americas―one rooted in the present, and the other stuck in the past. Researchers recommend that in order to heal the discrepancy, life long education is imperative.

Do you believe that your education has lengthened your own life? Or was it secondary to other factors? Let us know in the Comments.

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A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and medical writer.  In addition to reporting the weekend news on TakePart, she volunteers as a web editor for locally-based nonprofits and works as a freelance feature writer for Email Andri | @andritweets |