African-Americans with Graduate Degrees Live Longer

But the life expectancy and education gap between Black and white Americans is still alarming. 

Posted: 09/04/2012 05:28 PM EDT

Not sure if attending graduate school is for you? Yes, getting a professional degree can mean more loans and debt, but it may also add years to your life.

A study supported by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society looked at mortality rates between the years of 1998 and 2008 and found that African-American men with a high school degree or lower are expected to live to 66, 10 years less than Black men with bachelor’s degrees or higher. For African-American women, life expectancy increases from age 74 to age 80 for those with advanced degrees.

But how does having a higher degree impact your health?

Income and education level play a huge factor in a person’s health, BET.com reported earlier this year. With higher degrees comes more money, and that can translate into having better access to health care, healthier food options and more active lifestyles.

While this particular study shares some good news about Black health, there are still some incredibly disturbing racial life expectancy and education gaps that exist in this country. The study emphasizes that when you look at the lives of better-educated, white Americans and those of people of color with little education, the life expectancy gap can be more than 14 years.

According to New America Media, researchers also found:

— The gap between Black women of high-versus-low educational levels was 6.5 years, and for Latinas the difference was 2.9 years.

— For males, the longevity gaps were 12.9 years among whites, 9.7 years among blacks and 5.5 years for Hispanics.

— White men with 16 years or more of schooling had life expectancy at birth of 14.2 years longer than African-American males with fewer than 12 years of education.

— The gap between well-educated white women and Black women with low educational levels was 10.3 years.

— More than one-third of Latinos had less than a high school education, compared with one in six African-Americans and only one in 12 whites.

—Of those with college or post-graduate degrees, about one-third are white, one-sixth are Black and one in eight are Hispanic.

There were even racial gaps between folks with higher forms of education: white Americans with advanced degrees lived 4 to 6 years longer than their equally educated Black counterparts.

And sadly, the study warns that these gaps could even get worse by 2050 if access to higher education isn’t improved. Researchers say that to close the gap in life expectancy, the answer lies in our government and its implementation of “educational enhancements at young, middle and older ages for people of all races.”

Sounds like a plan. Now let’s see if that will actually happen.

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(Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

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