What impact does education have on your wellbeing?

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Policies aimed at encouraging higher education should not only target the young because many more can benefit from the uptake of education, say researchers

Education has become one of the clearest indicators of life outcomes such as employment, income and social status, and is a strong predictor of attitudes and wellbeing, according to a new report.

The research project Identity, Socioeconomic Status and Wellbeing, which is funded by the ESRC’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative, has investigated the psychological effect of differences in education.

This study is the first to compare the strength and stability of the ‘education effect’ on a wide range of outcomes over time.

The researchers analysed data from the British Social Attitudes Survey, the British Household Panel Survey and the International Social Survey Programme. Findings indicated a clear association between education and wellbeing.

Key findings

  • Higher levels of education are associated with a wide range of positive outcomes – including better health and wellbeing, higher social trust, greater political interest, lower political cynicism, and less hostile attitudes towards immigrants.
  • Level of education is the strongest predictor of outcomes (compared to age, gender, income, employment status, and marital status) in all models, except for the outcomes of wellbeing and health.
  • This ‘education effect’ is both robust and relatively stable over time, with little variation in the surveyed population across a range of 25 years. The effect is particularly marked for the outcome of social trust, becoming stronger within the same people as they age.
  • Across all education levels – low or high – people who report that they are satisfied with their education level and have incorporated education as part of their identity are benefitting psychologically.

These information has been taken from The wellbeing effect of education report published on the ESRC website.

Related links

this news has been re-posted from the Understanding Society website