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Mortality and Immortality

  • Rablen, Matthew D.


    (Brunel University)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.


    (University of Warwick)

It has been known for centuries that the rich and famous have longer lives than the poor and ordinary. Causality, however, remains trenchantly debated. The ideal experiment would be one in which status and money could somehow be dropped upon a sub-sample of individuals while those in a control group received neither. This paper attempts to formulate a test in that spirit. It collects 19th-century birth data on science Nobel Prize winners and nominees. Using a variety of corrections for potential biases, the paper concludes that winning the Nobel Prize, rather than merely being nominated, is associated with between 1 and 2 years of extra longevity. Greater wealth, as measured by the real value of the Prize, does not seem to affect lifespan.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2560.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Mortality and immortality: The Nobel Prize as an experiment into the effect of status upon longevity' in: Journal of Health Economics, 2008, 27 (6), 1462 - 1471
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2560
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  1. Douglas Miller & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Relative Income, Race, and Mortality," Working Papers 269, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  2. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
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  11. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
  12. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Ivan Werning, 2005. "The Equilibrium Distribution of Income and the Market for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 282-310, April.
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  15. Meer, Jonathan & Miller, Douglas L. & Rosen, Harvey S., 2003. "Exploring the health-wealth nexus," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 713-730, September.
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  21. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:1:p:161-188 is not listed on IDEAS
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