The Spanish population with the lowest educational level has lower life expectancy, more unequal age at death and lower proportion of years with quality of life, according to a study by the Center for Demographic Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (CED-UAB).
In a statement this Monday, the university has detailed that the study, published in ‘Demographic Perspectives’, is the first that simultaneously analyzes health and mortality for the entire Spanish population.
Through data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) from 2018 and 2019, it concludes that there is a “triple penalty” of the less educated in relation to those with a higher educational level.
In the first place, it has found lower life expectancies: in Spain, in that period, men with higher education could expect to live, from the age of 30, about five years longer than those with primary or lower education, while that difference was smaller in women, of little more than three years.
The differences between men with secondary and higher education are more pronounced than between women with these levels of education.
Second, a greater inequality in age at death: that of the population with a primary education or less is 27% higher in men, and 23% in women, than that observed among those with higher education.
Differences in mortality from “avoidable” causes
The study notes “important differences in mortality from preventable and treatable causes”: in general, causes related to behaviors and lifestyles – for example, tobacco and alcohol consumption – have a greater relative weight in men than in women.
In the population aged 30 to 49, the rate of mortality from avoidable causes of the less educated multiplies by 3.4 in men and by 2.4 in women to that of the most educated, placing these ratios at 2.1 and 1.5 in the segment of 50 to 74 years.
In the population aged 30 to 49, there are “significant” differences between people with a high and low educational level in causes of death such as lung cancer, ischemic diseases and traffic accidents in both sexes, in addition to suicides, the rest of accidents and deaths due to alcohol or drug use in men, and cerebrovascular accidents in women.
In the population aged 50 to 74 years there are significant differences in mortality between educational levels, among other causes, in the ischemic, cerebrovascular, and colorectal cancer diseases in both sexes, in addition to lung and liver cancer in men, and uterine cancer in women.
The exception is lung cancer in women ages 50 to 74, since “it was among the most educated in which the habit of smoking spread first”.
Third, there is a health penalty: for women, the average number of years they can expect to live in good or very good health after the age of 30 is 29.5 years among the less educated and 44.2 years among those with higher education (50% more), while these values are 30.9 and 41.0 years in men (33% more ).