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Social status - 'a health-giving magic'

New research by Professor Andrew Oswald (Department of Economics) and Dr Matthew Mablen (a government economist) indicates that social status has a direct effect on people’s well-being and length of life. T

The researchers examined a group of Nobel Prize winners – people whose status was quite suddenly conferred on them – and measured them against a ready-made control group – people nominated for a Nobel Prize but who didn’t actually win one. They looked at 135 winners and 389 nominees for the Nobel Prize for physics and chemistry between 1901 and 1950.

They found that the winners lived on average 1.4 years longer than those who had merely been nominated. Interestingly, the amount of prize money won and the number of nominations had no effect – what mattered was actually winning. Professor Oswald said: ‘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 life-span. How status does this, we just don’t know.’