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New study explores link between status and health
Date:3/11/2013

March 11, 2013 -- Research has long linked high socioeconomic status with better health and lower mortality. But what's remained unclear is whether this association has more to do with access to resources (education, wealth, career opportunity, etc.) or the glow of high social status relative to others. Scholars call the latter "relative deprivation."

To tease apart these factors, a team of investigators at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health led by Dr. Bruce Link, studied Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, Emmy Award winners, and former Presidents and Vice Presidents, comparing each to nominated losers in the same competition or election. The result: There were no consistent advantages for winners. The association between winning and longevity is sometimes positive, sometimes negative, and sometimes nonexistent, though the specifics are revealing. Overall, the results suggest that access to resources and opportunity is more important than relative status.

Findings are published online in the American Sociological Review.

Dr. Link and his associates found the following effects of winning vs. losing in the three groups:

  • Emmy-winning actors enjoyed 2.7 more years of life than nominees who did not snag the trophy. Though Emmy-winning screenwriters were, mysteriously, at a 3-year disadvantage.
  • Baseball Hall-of-Famers enjoyed no advantage in longevity over non-inducted nominees
  • Presidents and Vice Presidents lose, on average, 5.3 years from their lives compared to the candidates they bested. While some of this is due to the impact of assassination, the disadvantage persists even when assassination is taken out of the equation.

"The relative deprivation theory would predict that losers would consistently be at a disadvantage for health and longevity compared to winners, but this is not what we see," says Dr. Link, a professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School.

A more likely exp
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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