Increased levels of education are strongly and significantly related to improved health.
An additional four years of schooling improves five-year mortality rates by 16 per cent (the equivalent of the female-male gap).
More education reduces the risk of self-reported poor health. Cost-benefit analysis suggests that every £1 invested in education returns £2.25 to £7.20 in the value of additional health gained (1).
The number of people in England who go on to higher education has been increasing (2). But university places are disproportionately filled by people from higher-income families, which contributes to long-term inequalities in health.
However, the proportion of people in higher education from low-income households is growing. In the mid-1990s, people from the highest-income households were three times more likely to go to university than those from lower-income families. By 2009/10 this had reduced to twice as likely (2).
With pressure on public financing, increased tuition fees and the university sector opening up to a more global market, it is unclear whether improvements in access to higher education will continue.
- Cutler DM, Lleras-Muney A (2006). Education and health: Evaluating theories and evidence. National Bureau of Economic research
- Higher Education Funding Council for England (2010). Trends in young participation in higher education: core results for England, Issue 03