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Background: A clear understanding of the macro-level contexts in which education impacts health is integral to improving national health administration and policy. In this research, we use a visual analytic approach to explore the association between education and health over a 20-year period for countries around the world.

Method: Using empirical data from the OECD and the World Bank for 26 OECD countries for the years 1995–2015, we identify patterns/associations between education and health indicators. By incorporating pre- and post- educational attainment indicators, we highlight the dual role of education as both a driver of opportunity as well as of inequality.

Results: Adults with higher educational attainment have better health and lifespans compared to their less- educated peers. We highlight that tertiary education, particularly, is critical in influencing infant mortality, life expectancy, child vaccination, and enrollment rates. In addition, an economy needs to consider potential years of life lost (premature mortality) as a measure of health quality.

Conclusions: We bring to light the health disparities across countries and suggest implications for governments to target educational interventions that can reduce inequalities and improve health. Our country-level findings on NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) rates offer implications for economies to address a broad array of vulnerabilities ranging from unemployment, school life expectancy, and labor market discouragement. The health effects of education are at the grass roots-creating better overall self-awareness on personal health and making healthcare more accessible.


This work was originally published in Archives of Public Health, available at

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