Journal Article

Longevity and education: a demographic perspective

Jasilionis, D., Shkolnikov, V. M.

Gerontology, 62:3, 253-262 (2016)


Keywords: Finland, Scandinavia, USA, differential mortality, education, life expectancy


In the second half of the 20th century, the advances in human longevity observed have been accompanied by an increase in the disparities between countries and regions. Education is one of the strongest predictors of life expectancy. Studies have shown that both relative and absolute mortality differences by education within countries have been increasing, even in the most developed and egalitarian countries. It is possible to assume that groups of highly educated people who systematically display life expectancy levels which are higher than the observed best practice (record) life expectancy at the national level are vanguards who are leading the way toward a lengthening of life for the remaining population groups. This evidence based on population-level statistics and exploring an important single factor could inspire further discussion about the possibilities for extending human length of life at the national level. However, more comprehensive and reliable data covering a larger number of countries and more covariates are needed for understanding health effects of education and prospects of human longevity.