Education is a route to a better future – not just by increasing earning potential, but also by improving health. Women of reproductive age who have higher levels of education tend to be healthier and tend to have healthier children. Each additional year of education is associated with a 7% to 9% reduction in mortality for children under 5. Women of reproductive age with more education also tend to have smaller families. And children who receive education are more likely to grow into healthy and productive adults.
Over the past four decades, the number of years of education has increased in the vast majority of countries. One of the Millennium Development Goals focused on achieving universal primary education: “Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.” Although this target had not been met by the end of 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2016, continue to emphasize increasing universal educational attainment.
Worldwide, boys have traditionally received more education than girls. In developed countries, this gap has nearly closed, and in developing countries the gender gap is decreasing.
The University of Washington Center for Health Trends and Forecasts, housed at IHME, studies trends in education as well as other factors that influence health. Explore these relationships using our social determinants of health data visualization, an interactive tool that shows estimated trends in educational attainment and other social determinants of health, allowing users to compare these factors against health outcomes including maternal mortality, life expectancy, lower respiratory infections, and diarrheal diseases. The visualization shows average years of educational attainment per capita by age, sex, and country for the years 1950 to 2013.