By Margarita Nahapetyan
Wife's education positively influences both her own and her husband's chances of a long life, according to a new Swedish research.
In a study, the investigators from the Swedish Institute for Social Research in Stockholm revealed that a woman's education was a stronger factor in her husband's risk of dying over the next ten years or so than her husband's own level of education. And what is even more, the experts discovered that a husband's social class based on his occupation had a greater influence on his wife's survival than her own occupational class.
"Women traditionally take more responsibility for the home than men do, and, as a consequence, women's education might be more important for the family's lifestyle - for example, in terms of food habits - than men's education," said Drs. Robert Erikson and Jenny Torssander of the Swedish Institute for Social Research in Stockholm. Dr. Erikson said in an interview that living with a partner is known to reduce an individual's risk of dying early and this new study suggests that a person's choice of life partner may be an essential part of the equation.
To come up with this conclusion, the researchers looked at census data on education, jobs and income for more than 1.5million men and women with the ages between 30 and 59 years. All of those individuals were living with a partner, along with cause of death data for the period between 1991 and 2003. The investigators compared the data with the general life expectancy of the couples and also their risk of dying from specific type of cancer and circulatory problems.
The results revealed that a husband's level of education does not influence his longevity. However, men having spouses who had quit studying after school were 25 per cent more likely to die early when compared to men living with women holding a university degree. In turn, those married to women with a university degree were 13 per cent more likely to die early as opposed to those whose wives had a post- graduate qualification.
According to the experts, a woman with good education may not choose to marry a man who drinks and smokes excessively or who drives carelessly and men with such habits may not prefer to marry highly educated women. Drs. Erikson and Torssander also suggested that better educated women may be more aware of healthy food habits and medical treatments, therefore influencing their partner's lifespan.
The findings suggest that education has a huge impact on how long and how well people live. It also reflects on social factors as educated individuals usually have better paid jobs, which allow them to afford a healthier diet and lifestyle, more access to health information, and a greater opportunities for health education.
The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health online on October 6, 2009.