Education Improves Public Health and Promotes Health Equity

Int J Health Serv. 2015;45(4):657-78. doi: 10.1177/0020731415585986. Epub 2015 May 19.


This article describes a framework and empirical evidence to support the argument that educational programs and policies are crucial public health interventions. Concepts of education and health are developed and linked, and we review a wide range of empirical studies to clarify pathways of linkage and explore implications. Basic educational expertise and skills, including fundamental knowledge, reasoning ability, emotional self-regulation, and interactional abilities, are critical components of health. Moreover, education is a fundamental social determinant of health - an upstream cause of health. Programs that close gaps in educational outcomes between low-income or racial and ethnic minority populations and higher-income or majority populations are needed to promote health equity. Public health policy makers, health practitioners and educators, and departments of health and education can collaborate to implement educational programs and policies for which systematic evidence indicates clear public health benefits.

Keywords: disparities; equity; health in all policies; social determinant.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Equity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Socioeconomic Factors