New research has been published linking life expectancy to education — the more you have, the longer you live. Does education cause a longer life? No, but the decisions better educated (who usually have a higher socio-economic status as well) people make, help impact their health, and consequently, their longevity.

A 25-year-old in 1990 who had 12 years of education or less could look ahead to living until not quite 75, according to the study in the current issue of Health Affairs. At the same point, a 25-year-old with at least some college education could look forward to reaching 80.

In 2000, a 25-year-old who did not go beyond high school would still be expected to live to almost 75, but the better-educated 25-year-old’s life expectancy went up to 81.6 years, based on an analysis of death certificates, Census population estimates, and national mortality data, the most recent information available.

The biggest risk factors — smoking and obesity. Less educated people apparently smoke more and eat more fast foods or other unhealthy foods, putting on the pounds and increasing their health problems.

So while you don’t need to go out and get a college degree to live longer, you do have to make smart choices in your own life.

Read the full article from the Boston Globe: Better education translates into longer life expectancy, study finds