Better jobs: In today’s knowledge economy, an applicant with more education is more likely to be employed and land a job that provides health-promoting benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, and retirement.5 Conversely, people with less education are more likely to work in high-risk occupations with few benefits.
Reduced stress: People with more education—and thus higher incomes—are often spared the health-harming stresses that accompany prolonged social and economic hardship. Those with less education often have fewer resources (e.g., social support, sense of control over life, and high self-esteem) to buffer the effects of stress.
Knowledge and skills: In addition to being prepared for better jobs, people with more education are more likely to learn about healthy behaviors. Educated patients may be more able to understand their health needs, follow instructions, advocate for themselves and their families, and communicate effectively with health providers.
Social and psychological skills: Education in school and other learning opportunities outside the classroom build skills and foster traits that are important throughout life and may be important to health, such as conscientiousness, perseverance, a sense of personal control, flexibility, the capacity for negotiation, and the ability to form relationships and establish social networks. These skills can help with a variety of life’s challenges—from work to family life—and with managing one’s health and navigating the health care system.
Social networks: Educated adults tend to have larger social networks—and these connections bring access to financial, psychological, and emotional resources that may help reduce hardship and stress and improve health.