The Surprising Secrets to a Long Life

Many have studied the reasons for longevity. Why do some people live longer than others? Is it genetics? Is it culture, or perhaps lifestyle?

James Smith, a health economist at the RAND Corporation, delved into the prevailing mystery of why some groups of people live longer than others.

What he found you might find surprising. I certainly did. The number one social factor that correlated with long life was not geographic region or health or socioeconomic status, but education.

Among the most important things you can do to help lengthen your children's lives is to keep them in school, according to Dr. Smith. And he's not the only one who has come to this conclusion, as you will discover in this New York Times article.

The National Institute on Aging finds education is the most important social factor for longevity in study after study, dominating other factors such as income, race and health insurance. 

Columbia University graduate student Adriana Lleras-Muney found that your life expectancy at age 35 is extended by one and a half years simply by going to school for one extra year.

These findings imply that sinking our precious national dollars into health insurance programs will never give us as much "bang for our buck" as directing those funds toward education.

Dr. Smith suggests education may teach people how to delay gratification and think ahead. Education may teach you how to plan for your future, as opposed to simply living for the moment. Besides education, what other social factors may extend your life?

Having More Friends May Help You Live Longer

Harvard Professor of Public Policy Lisa Berkman cites social isolation as a significant factor in longevity. 

If you're socially isolated, you may experience poor health and a shorter lifespan. This may be, at least in part, because those who don't have good social networks may not be able to get assistance if they become ill.

Is there a health-wealth connection? Yes, there is, according to Dr. Smith. An analysis of Medicare beneficiaries performed by Dartmouth College found the lowest death rates are seen in the wealthiest places.

Current studies suggest getting rich does not make you healthier, but getting sick does make you poorer. Low income doesn't lead to poor health as much as poor health leads to low income, according to the latest research. 

This is largely due to the fact that, if you develop cancer, heart disease, diabetes or another serious disease, your medical expenses rise while your ability to work declines. 

For countries like England and Sweden that have universal health insurance, there is no difference in longevity between the rich and the poor.

David Kekich, founder of the Maximum Life Foundation, recommends the following seven steps to increase the quality and quantity of your life...

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