When you receive a high-quality education, you are bound to live a healthier lifestyle. Americans with high educational attainment often have access to more job opportunities and higher incomes, affording them greater financial stability and higher health literacy rates, which correlates to better health outcomes.
Which individuals are highly educated, they are often more equipped with the knowledge, finances, and resources needed to research their diagnoses, buy nutritious foods, pay out-of-pocket medical costs, advocate for their own care, and monitor their overall health and health-related needs.
Educational attainment directly impacts health
Educational attainment, alongside financial stability, is a commonly used indicator of socioeconomic status. It is defined by an individual’s highest level of education, and it often dictates their employment opportunities and earnings.
With each level of education that an individual attains, their average weekly pay rate increases substantially. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an individual with less than a high school diploma earns $619 on average, compared to $781 for an individual with a high school diploma, $1,305 for an individual with a bachelor’s degree, and $1,893 for an individual with a professional degree. This would mean that individuals with less than a high school diploma earn an average of just $32,185 per year. For a family of five, this would put them below the federal poverty line.
For many high-paying jobs, a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree is required, forcing those with lower levels of educational attainment to take low-paying jobs, and low-paying jobs are often more physically taxing and create more safety risks than high-paying jobs.
Understanding the role of education
When you’re working in a low-paying job, you may be facing more financial instability. This affects not only your health behaviors, as you may be more likely to use tobacco or eat cheaper and non-nutritious foods, but this will affect your health literacy and your access to quality care. You may not have insurance through your employer, or you may not be able to afford to take off work to visit the doctor or follow-up on a medical concern, which can delay diagnosis, treatment, and care. Also, you might not have the educational background required to read labels, understand provider instructions, or research your own care.
Having a low socioeconomic status, unfortunately, puts many individuals at a greater risk for developing chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, or heart disease, each of which can be costly to treat and care for, especially for those who can’t afford medication, specialist visits, nutritious food, or other needs. Poor health can also cause you to miss work or lose a job, making it difficult for individuals with chronic conditions to improve their financial status and, as a result, their overall health.
How to provide support beyond the classroom
A 2021 study conducted by Amplify Education found that educational inequities begin as early as kindergarten and first grade, often disproportionately impacting Black and Hispanic students. In many rural and/or low-income communities, school systems are underfunded and under-resourced, preventing students from receiving a quality education.
When children fall behind at an early age, they face the risk of never earning their high school diploma or finishing their GED, which impacts their lifelong earning potential, as well as their health and the health of their community. But many people don’t have an alternative option.
Imagine not having access to computers, after-school activities, ACT prep courses, or money for college applications, let alone money for college tuition. Now imagine, too, if your household doesn’t have enough food for the week or can’t afford to keep paying car insurance. Your focus will shift from Algebra homework to food and money, as it should.
Education doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. At Healthify, powered by WellSky, we understand this, which is why we work with community organizations to offer after-school programs, tutoring, skills training, job assistance, financial literacy courses, and GED support to children, families, and individuals. We know that education, household income, and neighborhood stress are significant contributors to health, and we’re dedicated to ensuring that no one’s health is hindered by their need.
To learn about our products and what we can do for your community, please contact us here.