The economic value of bringing the health status and longevity of all American adults up to the level of those with a college education is estimated at more than a trillion dollars a year.
It is better for your health to be well educated. Adults age 25 to 50 years old who have a college degree live, on average, five years longer than those with less than a high school education. At every age college-educated adults report being in very good or excellent health (75%), compared to those with less than a high school education (40%).
To inform its Commission to Build a Healthier America, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2007 commissioned an analysis of the cost of higher mortality rates and poorer health status associated with lower educational attainment.
Assuming that a year lived in optimum health is valued at $100,000, if all groups with less than a college degree were brought up to the same mortality rates as those with a college degree, the gain was valued at $493 billion. Bringing the health status of the less educated up to those with a bachelor’s degree would create a benefit of $527 billion. Together the benefits of decreasing health disparities associated with educational disparities were valued at $1.02 trillion per year.
"By expressing the health disparities in monetized form, the magnitude of the disparities can be more easily compared with other policy priorities," the researchers write.