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Governments anticipating longer life spans should invest in continuing education opportunities for adults. Around the world, the people who are able to complete more years of schooling tend to live healthier and longer lives, regardless of their country’s level of development. Schooling develops basic cognitive functions like reading, writing, and communicating, and can help people think logically, critically analyse data, solve problems, and put planning into practice. Higher education is often the key to stable and well-paid jobs, which in turn help pay for nutritious food, better-quality housing, and high-quality medical care. In addition, education can promote healthy lifestyles; highly-educated people tend to use their knowledge and skills to access information that helps them avoid health-related risks and adopt behaviour such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and getting physical exercise. In addition, education can provide socio-psychological resources that aid health and extend longevity. Investing in education systems improves health at the population level and education rates generally, and literacy rates have been increasing worldwide. One reason for this is the better nutrition and disease prevention that prolong lives, while also lowering student absences and raising enrolment rates and completion levels - though rates of schooling vary tremendously by region. For example, people in North America, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and most of western Europe and Scandinavia generally complete about 13 years of schooling. Meanwhile people in most of Central and parts of South America complete about seven years of schooling, and people in sub-Saharan African complete about four years. These early education gaps translate to troubling gaps during adulthood. The OECD survey of adult skills found that countries where people have relatively more years of schooling also have higher general rates of numeracy and literacy, and more prevalent problem-solving skills among adults (and correspondingly higher wages). Fortunately, life-long learning is now more accessible than ever. Online and hybrid models abound, with millions of students having been enrolled in online classes even before the advent of COVID-19. These help re-skill workers as job markets change; research indicates that training for older learners enhances their self-efficacy, strengthens cognitive and emotional capacities, and has immediate relevance. Since schooling around the world tends to be largely financed with public resources, governments anticipating greater longevity should be cognizant of the importance of continuing education in helping people live longer, healthier lives.

Longevity and Education


Increasing Impact of Ageing