Over the years, much attention has been paid to mortality rates based on socio-economic status.
By Vidya Hattangadi
Some of the recent scientific studies have found that people who receive higher education live longer than those who do not. What’s more, it also found that failing to obtain a higher education could be as damaging to a person’s life as smoking cigarettes. According to a new study, reading books extend lifespan by up to two years, and the more often you read, the better.
The authors of one of such famous study include professors and research associates from the University of Colorado-Denver, New York University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. This includes Patrick Krueger, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado-Denver’s Anschutz Medical Campus and a member of the research faculty at the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
It seems American musician Frank Zappa was wrong when he said “so many books, so little time.” According to a new study, reading books could extend lifespan by up to two years, and the more often you read, the better. Reading books is not just a popular pastime; numerous studies have hailed the benefits for health. Few of the recent studies carried on in various Universities in world have reported that reading fictional books and books of your choice encourage thinking empathetically and it improves rationality of mind too.
Back in 1975, economists concluded that longer lifespan is linked to wealth of a person, and concluded that wealth itself increases longevity. It seemed self-evident: everything people need to be healthy from food to medical care costs money. But soon it emerged that the data didn’t always fit that theory. Economic upturns didn’t always mean longer lives. In the 1980s, researchers found gaining higher education is associated with a greater increase in life expectancy than gains in wealth.
Finally, the more educated people in any country tend to live longer than their less educated compatriots. But such people also tend to be wealthier because of their higher degrees they find better job opportunities, so it has been difficult to untangle which factor is increasing lifespan.
One undeniable fact is of teachers and college professors: they live longer and remain intellectually agile much longer than the rest of the population. The reason being that they engage in research most of their lives for teaching, for publishing which increases their longevity and most importantly also slows down their ageing process. Because they mingle most of their lives with youngsters, they tend to remain young at heart and soul.
It’s no secret that over the last few decades, life expectancy in the United States has been rising. However, recent data shows that not everyone has benefited from this encouraging trend. A new finding from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University shows that individuals with more than 12 years of education have notably longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school. “We like to think that as we as a country get healthier, everyone benefits,” says David Cutler, dean for social sciences at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.
Over the years, much attention has been paid to mortality rates based on socio-economic status, but less attention has been paid to recent trends in life expectancy, mortality, and education level. To understand recent mortality trends, David Cutler and John Meara of Harvard Medical School combined death certificate data with census population estimates and data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. Restricting analyses to whites and non-Hispanic blacks, the team created two separate data sets, one covering 1981-1988, and the other 1990-2000. In both data sets, life expectancy rose for individuals who had more than 12 years of education.
For example, comparing the 1980s to the 1990s, better educated individuals experienced nearly a year and a half of increased life expectancy, while the less educated experienced only half a year. For 1990-2000, life expectancy rose an additional 1.6 years for better educated, while remaining fixed for the less educated.
Let’s look at what benefits educated people? Educated people get routinely involved in social networking; they get access to information because of their ability to understand information. People with higher education feel like they have better ability to deal with adversity and have self-efficacy; they have more cognitive skills to manage any sort of complicated situation. They can easily navigate the health care system; they have more social support.
Reading helps us understand how other people think and feel. Reading improves our emotional intelligence. This understanding can improve the overall quality of a person’s life as it would allow the person to act with better judgment and have more insight into the feelings and thought pattern of others. Research has shown that reading changes certain areas of the brain and activates certain other parts. According to neuroscientists, reading “rewires” those areas of the brain responsible for spoken language and vision. Hence, we see good readers with strong communication skills and cognitive intelligence. Reading can improve the functioning of the brain area that filters the massive amount of visual information that we see every day. This effect can also be observed in adults who learn to read much later in life.
Learning has no age bar. Each and every human is born with a right to be educated irrespective of his or her age. So, don’t hold back your urge to learn. The goal of education is to improve intelligence, character plus caliber.
The writer is Management thinker and blogger