Among the factors that contribute to health inequity is the quality and duration of education - from early childhood through post-secondary education and/or job training.
The Root Cause Coalition tells us that, at age 25, U.S. adults without a high school diploma can expect to die 9 years sooner than college graduates.
Education is a pre-cursor to employment. More education generally means a greater likelihood of being employed at all, and of having a job with healthier working conditions, better benefits and higher wages. More education is linked with higher-paying jobs providing the necessary income to live in neighborhoods that are less stressful, have stores with affordable healthy foods, and provide access to recreational facilities. (RWJF Education and Health Issue Brief #5)
Lack of employment and low wage jobs often force people to live in areas that are more impoverished and have less infrastructure to support healthy behaviors, such as grocery stores with fresh produce.
Additionally, adults with higher levels of education are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, and are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors related to diet and exercise.
The stress of chronic unemployment or underemployment can also raise levels of the hormones in the body, which, over time, can wreak havoc on organs and result in chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
The potential for creating improved health outcomes by addressing educational attainment is significant.