Numbers Don't Lie

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The non-secret formula of long life

The non-secret formula of long life is stay in school, according to Dr. Lleras-Muney, an economist at Princeton. People's life expectancy at age 35 was extended by as much as 1.5 years simply by going to school for 1 extra year; or expressed in another way - 1 year of education lowers the probability of dying in the next 10 years by approximately 3.6%.
About 100 years ago in US, different states started passing laws forcing children to go to school for longer periods, say, 6 years to 7 years. In 1999, Dr. Lleras-Muney went back and found the laws in the different states and then used data from the census to find out how long people lived before and after the law in each state was changed. She then found out the above formula. So far it has been confirmed by other studies covering many other countries.
It is not clear yet how it works between Education and Health (correlation? causation?). In my opinion, education promote the habit of acquiring knowledge, and knowledge in turn help people optimizing their lives in many ways.



Blogger Forty_Two said...

A century ago, keeping a child in school for an extra year may have opened doors for them that allowed them to escape the horrors of industry.

6:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The theory is tantalizing. It fits what we might want to believe. One assumes Dr. Lleras-Muney controlled for such factors as before-and-after differences in medical science, sanitation, farm safety and labor-saving strategies, industrial plant safety, transportation safety, the influenza epidemic, the two World Wars etc. in calculating death rates and longevity. I wonder how well the pattern works for individuals with in the same age cohort -- in other words, did the people born in 1890 have longevities correlating to their years in elementary and secondary school? And the same for those born in 1891, 1892, 1893 etc.?

3:41 PM


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