The Department of Education, Skills and Employment analysed a combination of Census, tax, welfare, health and education data from Australian government agencies to find that higher education can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Education provides people with the skills to participate in the economy and in society, and contribute to their wellbeing, including managing their health.
The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be fit and active. The department found that 61 percent of people with postgraduate qualifications meet the recommended exercise guidelines compared to 29 per cent for those with a Year 11 or below qualification.
The data also shows that the more educated you are the less likely you are to make unhealthy choices. You are less likely to take up smoking – 70 per cent of people aged 30-64 with a postgraduate degree had never smoked, compared to 35 per cent with a year 11 and below education.
And you’re less likely to drink to excess. Excessive alcohol consumption declined with increasing educational attainment from 23 and 25 per cent for Year 11 and below to 14 per cent for people with undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.
A good education can also influence other positive life choices, including helping others. Almost 4 million Australians volunteer each year with 17 per cent of those Australians with a Year 12 certificate as their highest qualification. The rate of volunteering climbs to 30 per cent for those who have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree.
Australians will always help a fellow Australian in need. Volunteering is worth billions of dollars and a strong driver for the Australian economy. For most grassroots organisations volunteers are the lifeblood that keeps them in operation.
And if that isn’t enough, people who volunteer for worthy causes are more likely to be satisfied with their life.
People with higher education also make more charitable donations. Up to 36 per cent of Year 12 certificate holders made will make a donation, while people with a bachelor degree climbs to 45 per cent, peaking with doctorate holders at 46 per cent.
Education just keeps giving. People with further educational qualifications are more likely to be involved in their communities and society as a whole. For some, this can mean serving on a committee, volunteering or supporting a local group to make change.
In 2006, 19 per cent of adults reported they’d participated in civic and political groups in the previous 12 months. This level of involvement peaked at around 24 per cent for those aged 45-64.
A great example of how people can come together for good includes the Clean Up Australia Day movement, which in 2009 saw 630,000 people participate, and more recently, the volunteering efforts to help communities affected by the devastating bushfires.
The health and wellbeing benefits of investing in your education are clear. A good education is good for you!