September 15, 2012

We all know that a good education is important.

In today's knowledge economy, education paves a path to competitive jobs and productive careers. American businesses need an educated workforce to compete with other countries in technology, science, and cutting-edge advances.

Less recognized is the impact of education on health outcomes. Along with the other benefits of education, Americans with a good education generally enjoy better health throughout their lives, generate fewer health care costs, and live longer. They are more successful students, more productive employees, and healthier senior citizens.

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Education and Health Initiative aimed to raise awareness about the important connections between education and health. Short videos and issue briefs explore four specific themes:

  • It matters now more than ever: the divergence in health status between Americans with and without an education is growing larger year by year.
  • Unpacking the relationship: the association between education and health has deeper root causes, such as the economic and social conditions young children experience before reaching school age, the skills and networks they build as they mature, and the jobs and resources they can access later in life.
  • The role of health care: Improved access to health care (and health insurance) is necessary but not sufficient to counter the effects of an inadequate education. Even in places where health care is guaranteed, people with limited education tend to be sicker.
  • The return on investment: Spending more to educate our youth could save more on health care costs, and the reverse is true: cuts in education to "save" money ultimately drive up health care costs.