Why Education Matters to Health

Exploring the Causes

Why is education such a major factor in shaping health? The links are complex—and tied closely to income and to the opportunities people have to lead healthy lives in their communities. Smaller social networks, higher neighborhood crime rates, and exposure to childhood trauma are just a few reasons why those with fewer years of education tend to live sicker, shorter lives. 

Key Findings

  • Education creates opportunities for better health. Americans with more education are more likely to have jobs with higher earnings; live in communities with more resources like greater schools and access to nutritious food, health services, and transportation; and acquire knowledge and skills to support healthier behaviors.

  • Poor health puts educational attainment at risk. Poor health can also cause educational setbacks starting at a young age. For example, children with chronic illnesses like asthma and other chronic illnesses may experience recurrent absences and difficulty concentrating in class. 

  • Certain conditions—especially beginning in early childhood—affect both health and education. Factors like a person’s socioeconomic status or home environment can create stress, cause illness, and deprive individuals and families of resources for success in school, the workplace, and healthy living.

This brief and below video by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health’s Education and Health Initiative, illuminate these connections through the perspectives of residents of a disadvantaged urban community in Richmond, Va. This is the second in a series of four briefs, with the third and fourth briefs exploring the intersection of education and health care coverage and costs.

Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes

In one disadvantaged Richmond community, educational opportunities are a lifeline for community residents to better health, yet the relationship between education and health is often complex. See how the Engaging Richmond partnership, a group of community researchers, is collaborating with VCU's Center on Society and Health to explore this complex relationship and raise awareness about the important connections between education and health. Created by the VCU Center on Society and Health with support from RWJF, this video is part of the Education and Health Initiative, a larger project aiming to increase awareness and understanding of the important connections between education and health.

Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes

In one disadvantaged Richmond community, educational opportunities are a lifeline for community residents to better health, yet the relationship between education and health is often complex. See how the Engaging Richmond partnership, a group of community researchers, is collaborating with VCU's Center on Society and Health to explore this complex relationship and raise awareness about the important connections between education and health. Created by the VCU Center on Society and Health with support from RWJF, this video is part of the Education and Health Initiative, a larger project aiming to increase awareness and understanding of the important connections between education and health.