Education, Aging, and Longevity: Unveiling the Link


The link between increased levels of education and longevity has long been observed, but understanding how education impacts aging and mortality poses challenges. A recent study conducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center delves into this relationship, utilizing data from the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing observational study initiated in 1948. This study is the first to connect educational mobility with the pace of biological aging and mortality.

Framingham Heart Study: An Overview

The Framingham Heart Study, spanning three generations, provides a rich dataset for longitudinal research into various aspects of health and aging. It serves as the foundation for numerous studies aimed at understanding factors influencing cardiovascular health and overall well-being.

Educational Mobility and Longevity

The study led by Daniel Belsky and his team at Columbia analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study to investigate the impact of educational mobility on aging and mortality. Educational mobility, defined as the attainment of higher levels of education compared to one’s parents, emerged as a significant factor in determining the pace of aging and risk of death.

Understanding Pace of Aging

To measure the pace of aging, researchers utilized the DunedinPACE epigenetic clock, a tool developed by the Columbia team. This clock, based on DNA methylation marks, provides insights into how fast or slow a person’s body is aging at a molecular level.

Research Methodology

The study involved analyzing data from over 14,000 participants in the Framingham Heart Study across three generations. By linking educational attainment data with biological aging measures derived from blood samples using DunedinPACE, researchers could assess the relationship between education, aging, and mortality.

Key Findings

The analysis revealed a compelling association between upward educational mobility, slowed pace of aging, and decreased risk of death. Participants who attained higher levels of education than their parents experienced a notable deceleration in the aging process, translating to a reduced risk of mortality.

Implications and Future Research

These findings suggest that interventions aimed at promoting educational attainment could potentially slow the pace of biological aging and promote healthier longevity. However, further experimental studies are required to validate these observations. Epigenetic clocks like DunedinPACE offer valuable tools for such investigations, providing insights into the effects of education on aging before the onset of age-related diseases and disabilities.


In conclusion, the study underscores the importance of educational mobility in shaping aging trajectories and longevity. It highlights the potential benefits of educational interventions in promoting healthier aging and emphasizes the need for continued research to better understand the mechanisms underlying this relationship.

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