Both education and skills are associated with better health. The percentage of adults who report being in good health is 33 percentage points higher among those with high literacy skills and a high level of education than among those with low literacy skills and a low level of education. In inclusive societies with lower earning advantages from higher education, such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden, fewer people tend to report limiting their activities due to health problems and there are high levels of life satisfaction across all educational attainment levels. Having a higher education is associated with being more satisfied with life. In all OECD and partner countries, with the exception of India, Korea and Turkey, more than 80% of tertiary graduates reported they were satisfied with their life.
Since 2009, Education at a Glance (EAG) has included an indicator on education and social outcomes using data from different surveys. The OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) develops and conducts the Survey of Adult Skills which measures adults’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. Data collected through the Survey of Adult Skills were used in various editions of EAG as it gathered rich information on various social outcomes. In EAG 2016, Indicator A8 (How are social outcomes related to education?) used this source to measure the association between educational attainment and self-reported health. This indicator also analysed data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) on the prevalence of limitations that affect people’s ability to perform normal daily activities across the different educational attainment levels. Finally, it referred to the Gallup World Poll to analyse how life satisfaction varied across the different countries and educational attainment levels. The main findings are further developed in this paper.
Definitions Activity limitation: Individuals with activity limitation are those who report that, because of a health problem, they were limited to a greater or lesser degree from doing normal activities during at least the six months prior to the survey. Life satisfaction: Individuals satisfied with their life are those who reported they stand on the positive side of the Cantril ladder of life satisfaction, meaning they answered 6 or above to the question about where they feel they currently stand in a ladder with 10 steps, where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life. Self-reported health: Individuals reporting being in good health are defined as those who report that they are in excellent, very good or good health.
Health increases with educational attainment and literacy proficiency
Skills and educational attainment are both positively associated with good self-reported health. The percentage of adults who report being in good health is 33 percentage points higher among those with high literacy skills and a high level of education than among those with low literacy skills and a low level of education.
Kilde: OECD 2016 Education Indicators in Focus – December 2016