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Degree at 25 means better health in midlife

Arnold School study: Better health 1 more reason for degree

People who had an associate's degree by age 25, and who later earned a bachelor's degree or higher, also reported better health at midlife.

"About 38 percent of people pursuing college degrees are 25 years old or older,” Walsemann said. “A significant percentage of U.S. individuals attain their highest degree after their mid-20s. The study has important implications for education and public health and how we think about policies to encourage people to pursue college degrees."

Many people associate higher education with traditional students, who enter college immediately after their senior year of high school. But because of the economic downturn in recent years, "more people are coming back later in life to pursue a college degree to enhance their opportunities for employment or to change career fields," Walsemann said. "A growing percentage of students aren't on a traditional path.

"Our study provides preliminary evidence that the timing of education is associated with health and advances current research on the importance of attaining at least a bachelor's degree after the mid-20s," Walsemann said.

Future studies are needed to identify the extent to which the timing of educational attainment matters for population health and the mechanisms by which education in later life benefits health, she said.

Co-authors on the study were Dr. Bethany A. Bell of USC's College of Education and Dr. Robert A. Hummer of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Posted: 02/27/12 @ 5:30 PM | Updated: 02/27/12 @ 5:07 PM | Permalink

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