college graduates
A graduate from Columbia University's School of Engineering sleeps during the university's commencement ceremony in New York, May 16, 2012. reuters/Keith Bedford

Sending children to college not only ensures that they lead better and healthier lives, it also helps their parents live longer, according to a new study.

Basing their conclusions on data collected between 1992 and 2006 from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement, or HRS, study -- which is conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the university and surveys approximately 26,000 adults over the age of 51 every two years -- sociologists Esther M. Friedman and Robert D. Mare found that parents of college graduates lived about two years longer that those whose children didn’t graduate from high school, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday.

Furthermore, they found that parents of college graduates also outlived those whose children had attended college but not graduated, establishing a direct correlation between the level of a child’s education and parents’ life spans.

“56% of survivor’s offspring have some college or a college degree, in contrast to only 50% of offspring for those respondents who died during the study period,” the study stated, after Friedman and Mare compared the data obtained from the HRS study with the U.S. government’s National Death Index.

The research, which was published in the August issue of the Population Association of America, or PAA, journal Demography, found that “adult offspring’s educational attainments have independent effects on their parents’ mortality,” even after accounting for other factors such as the parents’ socio-economic standing.

On an average, the study found that parents whose children had at least a college-level education lived about two years longer -- up to an age of 71 -- than those whose children did not finish high school. The researchers theorized that better-educated children are probably a source of motivation for parents to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which, in effect, could be adding the two extra years to their lives.

“These findings suggest that one way to influence the health of the elderly is through their offspring,” the study said.