Sometimes, you read about a study and you have to think to yourself, “Who is the person who decided that it was really necessary to fund this study — isn’t it completely obvious just by giving it just a modicum of thought?” For example, they actually did a study to determine whether children that were given balls and jump ropes were more active than children who did not have such options — no surprise, the children with exercise equipment are more active! Next, they’ll try telling us that children with a television watch more television than children who have a book but no television.
A recent study was concluded and determined that higher education is tied with lower blood pressure. Hearing the simple result of the study, I naturally tried to figure out why that might be the case and I couldn’t come up with anything that made any sense. I wondered if perhaps it was because people who were better educated (getting a full bachelors degree versus just a high school diploma, masters degree versus bachelors, etcetera) could possibly be more aware of the kinds of things they should do keep their own blood pressure down.
Perhaps, I thought, the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to go to the doctor on a regular basis for preventative measures — maybe even because they are more likely to have jobs that do not provide the insurance necessary to pay for good preventative care. I then read a little further into the article on the study:
The authors of the study stated that lower educational achievements “has been demonstrated to predispose individuals to high strain jobs, characterised by high levels of demand and low levels of control, which have been associated with elevated blood pressure.”
In other words, because a person with a Doctorate is much less likely to be working in a high stress retail or restaurant job, and much more likely to be working a job sitting at a desk researching a thesis or working on their own study (useless or otherwise), their stress levels are considerably lower than their blue collar counterparts.
I suppose that I can see this in real life — I have a roommate who works at Starbucks, whereas I work in an office environment, and he is regularly a lot more stressed about his work than I am about mine even though some would say that he “only makes coffee.” He makes coffee but has to put up with people yelling at him when he doesn’t make their one hundred sixty-three degree cappuccino with one pump of peppermint syrup exactly the way that they wanted it.
What practical impact this can have is shaky in my mind. I don’t think that people are going to run out to get a degree on the premise that they are going to have lower blood pressure as a result. People seem to be much more keen on being as uneducated as they want to be and then going to the pharmacy to get their blood pressure medication.