Saturday 21 April 2018

Male school drop-outs suffer a high rate of early, unnatural deaths

Prof John Fitzgerald, Economic and Social Research Institute. Picture: Damien Eagers
Prof John Fitzgerald, Economic and Social Research Institute. Picture: Damien Eagers

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

BOYS who drop out of school at or before Junior Cert level have a high rate of death in their 20s and early 30s.

And only a minority of those deaths are from natural causes with more than three in four a result of suicide, accident or other "unnatural" circumstances.

As many as 6.2pc of men with only primary and junior cert education die before reaching 35. That stands at three times the death rate of girls of the same age who left school early.

In comparison, only 1.9pc of males who complete the Leaving Cert and 1.1pc of those who graduate from college die so young, according to a study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Lead author, Prof John FitzGerald said those who experienced premature death in their 20s and early 30s were more likely to have major problems, decide to leave school and then die early.

The study shows that 77pc of male deaths among 20-34 year-olds are from "unnatural" causes, compared with 31pc for females. Among the men, 29pc of deaths are by suicide, twice the rate of that for female early school leavers.

The ESRI analysis, The Impact of Changes in Educational Attainment on Life Expectancy in Ireland, is based on the 2006 census.

While it concludes that poor educational attainment is a good indicator of risk of early death, it says it does not explain it and that there are a range of social and other factors at work.


The ESRI report tracks the link between educational attainment and life expectancy and notes rising educational standards in the population.

At the upper end, a combination of a rising share of the population having third-level education and higher life expectancies for this group will lead to a substantial jump in the proportion of over 65 year-olds.

It states that this may have implications for the economy and society as those with a good education will be more likely to work after the age of 65, in jobs involving less manual labour.

But the study expresses concern about those with the lowest levels of educational achievement, and the "excess" deaths among male low achievers in the 20-34 age group.

It notes the dramatic fall in road deaths since 2006 which, it states, could alter this picture. But the report concludes that "a major question for future research" must be the reasons underlying the big difference in life expectancies by level of education, especially for young age groups.

Irish Independent

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