Higher Education Leads to Better Health, But Not So Much for Black Men

Professor David Williams

A new study by the Kaiser Health Network finds that more education typically leads to better health, yet Black men in the U.S. are not getting the same benefit from higher education as other groups.

Generally, higher education means better-paying jobs and health insurance, healthier behaviors, and longer lives. This is true across many demographic groups. And studies show life expectancy is higher for educated Black men — those with a college degree or higher — compared with those who have not finished high school. But the increase is not as big as it is for Whites.

Researchers who study the health of various racial and ethnic groups, as well as the social factors that influence health outcomes, see cause for concern. The findings suggest that the power of discrimination to harm Black men’s lives may be more persistent than previously understood. And they could mean that improving Black men’s health may be more complicated than previously believed.

Black men, even with an education, have less of a financial and social safety net than White men. That brings added stress, the experts said. Also, as Black men climb a corporate, academic, or managerial ladder, many feel isolated. And social isolation harms health.

The findings suggest that the power of discrimination to harm Black men’s lives may be more persistent than previously understood. “What has surprised me is how powerfully and consistently discrimination predicts poor health,” said David Williams, the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and chair of the department of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The full study, “Racism Derails Black Men’s Health, Even as Education Levels Rise,” may be found here.

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  1. If these findings are statistically solid, then why should Black males/men continue to pursue higher education if the ROI and overall quality of life is miniscule? That said, this clearly shows the collaborative effectiveness of White American racism. For those who dissent, please spare me with the neoliberal psycho-babble.

    • Michael.

      A key purpose of an education is to enrich our personal experience and understanding of the world around us, and help us exercise some control over the people and conditions that affect our lives — regardless of how long we live.

      So an education is (almost) always worthwhile. As to longevity, the study actually says that the benefits to black men are only slightly less than the benefits to white men.

      One other point: If black men aren’t educated, how can we contribute meaningfully to the high-performing, First World economy of the United States? And if we can’t contribute, how can we earn the respect our civil rights activists keep demanding from our fellow Americans?

      • Your dimwitted comment is peppered with more of the status quo neoliberal miseducation. Based upon your gibberish you are Not a Native Born Black American. Adios chico!

  2. So, discrimination is the sole factor in poor health outcomes for Black men, even for Black men involved in fraternities and other social/organization networks that can be a buffer to the aforementioned? Is discrimination solely to blame or could we add other variables such as lack of physical activity and other healthy life style factors? According to Black Demographics (https://blackdemographics.com/health-2/obesity/), Black educated men have a 40% high obesity rate compared to 36% of non-educated Black men, despite the latter being likelier to face discrimination. And I wonder, do educated Black men choose to separate themselves from other Blacks, leading to isolation and vulnerability to discrimination?

    • Hey Allen,

      You answered your own question concerning so-called Black American men. In addition to domiciling in so-called White spaces, many tend to marry White, Asian, or Hispanic women.

  3. In earlier studies a correlation between highest educational level achieved and lifespan/health was noticed. But correlation is not causation. Most of the black men getting college degrees these days are no different than black men in the past who didn’t get college degrees. Black men didn’t suddenly get smarter, on average, than before. What happened was the introduction of affirmative action and recruitment to get black men to apply to college who cannot qualify under standardized, objective criteria for academics. I think if this study had controlled for IQ rather than for education it would find that nothing has changed.

    • Hey Harold,

      Based upon your idiotic and miseducated comment, we can clearly show that you’re a rabid defender of White supremacy in all forms. I just bet its a very high probability that you’re either an African or Caribbean immigrant. I think you’re consuming too much curry chicken.

  4. @Harold Blamage

    Then the same thing can be said about white women, who benefitted the most from Affirmative Action, and who still manage to outlive yourself and your white brethrens.

    And I believe that correct term would be the that Correlation is Not Always Causation , that is why in research literature, the word “may,” but you just wanted to be bias. And though IQ, plays a role in life expectancy/ longevity, genetics and lifestyle play an even bigger factor. It does not take for someone to have a high IQ to adapt a healthy lifestyle. I guess having a high IQ is the only thing that makes you feel superior to others, shrugs.

    • For cultural reasons alone, we would not expect black men to live as long as white men. A higher percentage of black men get fat eating unhealthy food, exercise too little (or too strenuously for those in professional sports), neglect to see physicians they can afford to see, are less disciplined about taking prescribed medicines, etc.

      But we live at a time when Critical Race Theory is fashionable, and racism is blamed first for everything, even in situations where it is practically impossible to disentangle the effects of racism from other significant factors for which we are ourselves responsible.

      • Ewart Archer
        This maybe the reason why Black male athletic youth suffer from a weak cardiovascular system, but in the same light, Black male youth have the lowest obesity rate in comparison to all other racial/gender groups. Per readings from other sources, strenuous exercise regimes lead to cardiac arrhythmia so there may be a connection there, but many would say it is faulty genetics, which I think is not true.

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