Better educated people live longer

Gap in life expectancy throughout Europe
  • Deborah Condon

People who are more educated live longer than those with lower levels of education throughout Europe, researchers have found.

According to the findings, a gap in life expectancy between high and low educated people exists in all European countries, with the largest gap seen in Eastern Europe.

The results come from an ongoing European project known as FACTAGE (Fairer ACTive AGeing for Europe), which looks at life expectancy after the age of 50.

"The difference runs to 11 years for Estonian men whereas it is less than three years in Sweden. It is generally larger for men than women. Moreover, people with a high educational level live more years without disability. There is also a clear geographic variation with differences being larger in Eastern Europe," explained Mikkel Barslund of the Centre for European Policy Studies.

The researchers also looked at health outcomes and trends over time.

"Specifically, we ask if socio-economic differences in health outcomes are worsening over time, or if health outcomes became more equal. The main result, looking at the 10 European countries where data is available, is that differences are not increasing, and there is some evidence that differences are shrinking," Mr Barslund noted.

FACTAGE is planning more research in a number of areas including overall wellbeing and the impact of a longer working life on gender equality within the domestic household.

"Building on the work on socio-economic inequalities, the FACTAGE project will focus on how to deliver longer working lives in an equitable way prospectively," Mr Barslund added.

Details of these findings were presented at the recent conference, ‘Increasing the Knowledge Base on Demographc Change', in Brussels.


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