Learning Leads to Happiness and a Longer Life, According to Researchers

Learning and happiness are linked, according to a paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers David Cutler and Adriana Lleras-Muney decided to review research papers that have been published on education-longevity.

What the paper found was the following:

Education is Linked to Mortality

Mortality rates differ from educated and non-educated individuals. The research consists of statistics from the United States, with a focus on 25-year-olds who had some form of education in 1980.

The study shows that these individuals were expected to live another 54.4 years on average, making them 79.4 years old at death.

A 25-year-old that only had a high school education was expected to live 51.6 years, or to the age of 76.6.

Studies from 2000 show that the mortality rate had increased even further between these two groups. College graduates were expected to live seven years longer than their counterparts who only completed high school.

Education is Linked to Better Health

Education is the main difference between both groups, and there’s a disconnect in the scientific community as to why educated persons have a longer lifespan. One group associates a longer lifespan and better health with higher earnings.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in the first-quarter of 2016, the average weekly earnings for full-time workers, 25 years of age or older, were:

  • $494 for non-high school graduates
  • $679 for high school graduates
  • $782 for workers with some form of college education
  • $1,155 for bachelor degree holders
  • $1,435 for advanced degree holders

Psychologist Laura Carstensen claims that education predicts whether or not people get sick, but she does note that income predicts how fast a person’s health declines after they get sick.

Higher income levels lead to more healthcare options and better health insurance, which are beneficial when a person does get sick.

Studies show that accelerated learning earlier in life also boosts mental health later in life. Better cognitive function later in life is linked to attending school for a longer period of time.

Older individuals that fail to continue learning throughout life are also more susceptible to losing the activities that they love doing. The isolation older people feel causes them to abandon the activities that stimulate their minds and bring them enjoyment.

Researchers at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work have found that older people benefit from continued work, but this work must span among many categories, such as: education, caregiving, paid work and volunteering.

The researchers found that engagement alone doesn’t lead to longer life or better health.

The engagement must have a sense of purpose and produce happiness. People need to engage in activities that bring happiness and purpose to their life to stimulate the mind. Finding new and exciting things for the mind to do leads to a higher level of happiness and better health.

Lifelong learning is associated with healthier aging and increased longevity.

A person can choose to further educate themselves outside of college by learning a new skill or studying a new language. Learning a new language is very high on the list of tasks that has mental acuity benefits.