Longer educational attainment in childhood has been associated with positive health transitions into adulthood, revealed a new study. The researchers concluded that multiple processes rather than a single underlying factor are likely to bring about the association.
For the study, researchers surveyed 3596 young participants in Finland, aged three to 18 years, to see how they would rate their own health. The results suggested that a one year difference in education resulted in a 16% higher transition, from 'mediocre' to 'good' self-rated health.
The study analyzed results from surveys in 1980 to 2007, where health behaviors, social support, self-esteem, and work-related health hazards were assessed. Each study participant was observed three times- in 1986, 1989, and 2001. Participants were asked questions about their current health state, whether they smoked and drank alcohol, and how strenuous their job was in order to adjust the results of educational attainment. The main effect of a one year increase in education was robust to these other factors.
Co-author Marko Elovainio said, "Few studies have adopted similar robust designs to investigate the effects of education in general health status. The findings may have some implications for policy by focusing on the accumulation of risk factors and benefits throughout life, ensuring that children with health problems are not disadvantaged in educational opportunities."
The study is published in the Journal of Public Health.