Education and Quality of Life

Access to a quality and well rounded education can be the deciding factor in the trajectory of an individual’s future. Education often dictates the kind of career options one has access to and can have a profound impact on long term quality of life. Looking specifically at the state of Mississippi we can see the impact education level has as it varies from its wealthiest to poorest counties and its role in the economic inequality/ equality of these regions.

Overall, the correlation between education and one’s quality of life and economic future is extreme. Education almost guarantees access to higher paying jobs which inherently offer economic freedom. Given the set up of the American healthcare system, freedom of economy is essential to longevity and happiness as it is easier to pay off medical bills making individuals more likely to seek rather than avoid healthcare (Pfaff). Further, many advanced jobs, unattainable for less educated people, offer immediate benefits that include amenities like healthcare coverage or life insurance,

“Educational inequality exerts, as expected, a positive and statistically significant effect on inequality in life expectancy. A one-unit increase in the Gini of education increases the Gini of longevity by 0.0164 or 0.0370, respectively.” (Pfaff)

Education can also play a role in an aspect of our lives we wouldn’t normally consider, marriage. Individuals will often end up marrying someone who possesses a similar degree of education to themselves and are more likely to stay married, “Due to the fact that they marry later and do so under more favorable economic conditions,” (Ross and Willigan 3). Additionally, married people report being healthy and happier compared to those who are single (Ross and Willigan 4).

The psychological benefits education brings continues even further. Higher education comes with an innate sense of control, educated individuals are allowed more autonomy when it comes to the job hunt and aren’t forced to accept the first offer available to them (Ross and Willigan 4). Even in the workplace, education allows one to feel a sense of control over the work that they are doing with the ability to do “non-routine” work and use their education to offer their own creative insights to the task at hand rather than simply follow the wants of an employer. (Ross and Willigan 3). This high level of “personal control” is positively correlated with the amount of an individual’s education and, “People with high levels of personal control have low levels of psychological distress… and perceived control over both good and bad outcomes correlates negatively with depression,” (Ross and Willigan 4). Control eliminates the sense of powerlessness when it comes economic hardship that low income people face, there is a, “Synergic effect on economic hardship of low education and low income, each making the effect of the other worse,” (Ross and Willigan 3) and those with high income and high levels of schooling can avoid having difficulty paying for bills and supporting their children; the stress of which often induces depression (Ross and Willigan 3). The level of education we receive prior to entering the workforce has a long standing impact on our relationships, economic stability, and access to certain amenities such as healthcare, all of which contribute to individual longevity and reported happiness and rates of depression.

Mississippi is a great example of this link between quantity and quality of education in a region and future success and wellbeing. Mississippi is a state that places a very low priority on education coming in at 46th in educational spending; spending only $8,263 per student compared to the national average in the United States of 11,009 in 2014 (Harris). Further less than half of all Mississippi residents received an education beyond high school according to 2022 reports (Childress et al.). Additionally, education historically has not had the support of the public, “Last fall (2014), Initiative 42, a citizen-driven referendum that would have forced the Legislature to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, failed at the ballot box,” (Harris) this bill would have created minimum funding requirements for schools and an overall standard of quality education for the state (Harris). Mississippi also has some of the worst access to healthcare in the country (“Health Equity”) and much of it is attributed to the effects of low education,

“Many of Mississippi’s poor health outcomes are due to the social determinants of health. In Mississippi, those without a high school diploma and earn less than $15,000 a year have the least favorable health outcomes,” (“Health Equity”).

We can also see a contrast between specific counties in Mississippi that vary in their average GDP per capita. Looking at Madison, which is Mississippi’s wealthiest county with an average household income of $74,688, from the 2022 census reports it is observable that 92.2% of individuals over the age of 25 obtained a highschool education or higher and over 50% received a bachelor’s degree (“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Madison County, Mississippi”). Access to healthcare is also high with only 10.9% of individuals under the age of 65 not having health insurance (“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Madison County, Mississippi”).

In contrast, Holmes, one of Mississippi’s most impoverished counties with a median household income of $24,958 as of the 2021 census reports, 77.6% of individuals over the age of 25 have a highschool education or higher and only 12.7% have a bachelor’s degree or higher (“Holmes County, Mississippi; Mississippi; United States”). Poverty rates are also extremely high with 37.8% of individuals living under the line; health is also low in this region as 26.8% of citizens under 65 have some kind of disability (“Holmes County, Mississippi; Mississippi; United States”).

Creating equitable access to education and supporting these regions with long standing low gini indexes and consequently low educational funding could create a more economically prosperous future for Mississippi as those who have higher education are less dependent on government aid and increase their, “Personal spending, and generate tax revenue for the state,” (Childress et al.). Mississippi falling within the extremes of educational and economic inequality offers a unique perspective on the positive correlation between these two variables and we can see exactly how the increase of one leads to the increase of income and the overall well being of the region as a result.

Education is the key to unlocking the future of the coming generations.. Access to education decides future relationships, career aspirations, and overall stability in life. This is why, as we can see from the lens of Mississippi, maintaining a standard of education is so important and would be a vital step towards global equality.

Works Cited

Childress, Cameron, et al. “Strengthening Mississippi’s Economic Future Through Postsecondary Investment.” Ithaka S+R, 17 January 2023, Accessed 27 September 2023.
Harris, Bracey. “Census: Mississippi 46th in education spending.” The Clarion-Ledger, 27 September 2016, Accessed 27 September 2023.
“Health Equity.” Mississippi State Department of Health,,0,236.html. Accessed 27 September 2023.
“Holmes County, Mississippi; Mississippi; United States.” Census Bureau, 2022,,MS,US/PST045219. Accessed 27 September 2023.
Pfaff, Katharina. “The impact of an unequal distribution of education on inequalities in life expectancy.” NCBI, 4 November 2021, Accessed 27 September 2023.
Ross, Catherine E., and Marieke Van Willigan. “Education and the Subjective Quality of Life.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 38, no. 3, 1997, p. 23. Jstor, Accessed 28 September 2023.
“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Madison County, Mississippi.” U.S. Census Bureau, 2022, Accessed 27 September 2023.

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