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Social status linked to lifespan

india Updated: Jan 19, 2007 19:28 IST
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Social status may impact on longevity, say researchers who studied winners and nominees of the Nobel Prize.

Previous research has found a link between status and health in monkeys, but it has been difficult to investigate the link in human beings because status often brings more wealth, which improves living standards and medical care, reported the online edition of New Scientist.

Andrew Oswald and Matthew Rablen, economists at Britain's Warwick University, studied 524 men - 135 winners and 389 nominees - for the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry between 1901 and 1950.

They looked only at men to avoid differences in lifespan between sexes, and because the male winners provided a bigger sample size.

Prize winners lived 1.4 years longer on average - or 77.2 years - than those who were nominated for the award, the researchers found.

But when the survey was restricted to only comparing winners and nominees from the same country, the longevity gap widened by about another eight months on average, the researchers said.

The researchers focused on winners "as an ideal group to study as the winners could be seen as having their status suddenly dropped on them".

"Walking across that platform in Stockholm apparently adds about two years to a scientist's lifespan. How status does this, we just don't know," Oswald said.

Though the prize money increased with time, the actual amount had no effect on the longevity of the recipient. "Actually winning the prize was what counted," he added.

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