Politicians enjoy longer lives than general populations, Oxford study finds

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Scientists from Oxford Population Health found that politicians typically enjoy longer lives than the general population.

The research is published in the European Journal of Epidemiology and was conducted by Dr. Laurence Roope et al.

In the study, the team used information on politicians from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S.

The combined dataset included 57,561 politicians, of which 40,637 had died. The proportion of female politicians ranged from 3% (France and the U.S.) to 21% (Germany).

The team found that for almost all countries, politicians had similar rates of mortality to the general population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Throughout the 20th century, differences in mortality rates widened significantly across all countries, so that politicians had an increased survival advantage over the general population.

In several countries, the survival advantage of politicians is at its greatest level for the last 150 years, similar to that seen in the middle of the 19th century.

The difference in life expectancy at age 45 between politicians and the general population also increased strongly during the second half of the 20th century.

Currently, life expectancy gaps range from around 3 years in Switzerland to 7 years in the U.S.

Some may suggest that these differences in life expectancy may be due to politicians typically earning salaries well above the average population level (in the U.K., the basic annual salary for an MP from 1 April 2022 is £84,144).

However, while this may be part of the reason, these results suggest that other factors must also be at play.

The researchers suggest that the recent survival gains for politicians may be due to a variety of factors, including differences in standards of health care and lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet.

The availability of improved therapies for medical conditions more likely to affect politicians (particularly cardiovascular diseases) may also play a role.

They note, for instance, that both President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill suffered from hypertension and ultimately died of a stroke.

However, since antihypertensive drugs became widely available in the 1960s, the risk of death from circulatory diseases has decreased significantly.

It is also possible that the introduction of new campaigning methods (including television broadcasting and social media) changed the type of person who became a politician, and that this had an impact on life expectancy trends.

The researchers add that because the study focused on high-income countries, the results may not be generalizable to low and middle-income countries.

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