If there was ever a compelling argument for staying in school, this is it: Finishing high school could save your life.
According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Colorado, the less education you have, the more likely you are to die early.
"We could potentially save a lot of lives if folks finished their high school degrees," Patrick Krueger, the lead author and an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, said.
While several other studies have pointed to links between low education levels and high mortality rates, Krueger's team aimed to put a number on the magnitude of the association.
They estimated that 145,243 deaths in 2010 were attributable to people having less than a high school diploma. To put the finding in perspective, that, the study says, is comparable to the number of deaths that could likely be avoided if current smokers had the same mortality rates as former smokers.
And, the study says, educational disparities in mortality are increasing. While life expectancy has gone up for those with higher levels of education, such as a bachelor's degree, the researchers point out that it has stagnated for people with less than a high school education, and actually declined among women without a high school diploma.