Monday, January 22, 2007

Want to live longer?

Win the Nobel Prize.

Forget the fountain of youth, winning the Nobel Prize can increase your lifespan - at least according to a study performed by Professor Andrew Oswald and government economist Matthew Rablen from the University of Warwick. They compared the lifespans of over 500 male Nobel Prizes nominees for physics and chemistry and found an average lifespan of 76 years. But, they found, those that won the prize tended to live about 1.4 years longer than nominees that didn't win.

Oswald attributes this to status: "Status seems to work a kind of health-giving magic. Once we do the statistical corrections, walking across that platform in Stockholm apparently adds about two years to a scientist's lifespan." (the gap widens to about 2 years when winners/not-winners within the same country are compared)

This study raises many questions in my mind. If status has that much influence on longevity, how do I raise my status?? Or that of my aging parents? Maybe insurance companies will have to start paying for people's education or guitar lessons because they help people achieve greater status and therefore, I infer, a healthier life...These results also put some pressure on the Nobel committee - can you imagine them all sitting around wondering whose life to extend?

Do movie stars and rock stars live longer than their counterparts (of course you'd have to take into consideration premature deaths by ODs)? Presidents versus candidates that weren't successful in moving to the white house? Will my younger brother live longer than me? Cause he's much cooler than I am...


  1. What was the standard deviation? I mean, my dad has good health insurance, and because of it, could get otherwise-expensive bypass surgery. This could give him 20 more years of life. The Nobel prize is money, and might allow a few winners to buy more time. It would only take a few like my example.

    You can get five years of average extra life by regular exercise. You don't even have to do something hard, like diet or quitting smoking.

  2. This study seems completely bogus. For starters, how do they know whether or not someone is a "nominee" for a Nobel prize? Isn't that information kept rather ... secret? And aren't most of the winners usually kind of old, winning near the end of their lifetimes?