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Politicians Outlast Their Constituents, Reveals Groundbreaking Study
Politics

Politicians Outlast Their Constituents, Reveals Groundbreaking Study

Jul 4, 2023

Since the 1980s, income and wealth inequalities have increased in many countries. The top 1% earn about 20% of the total income. Elite groups have an advantage over others in areas like education, health. Also, they tend to live longer. The top 1% in income is nearly 15 years longer than the bottom.

Politicians are a very important group of elites. They tend to be highly educated and earn salaries that far exceed the average salary for the population. Many people accuse them of not being like the population they represent and of taking too long to implement policies that could improve their welfare. We found in a study that the mortality rates of politicians were higher than those they represented.

The analysis we have done is the most thorough to date, and it includes data from 11 countries with high incomes: Australia, Austria Canada France Germany Italy The Netherlands New Zealand Switzerland the UK. Previous studies that tracked long-term trends of health inequality focused only on a small number of countries such as Sweden or the Netherlands.

Politicians

The study involved more than 57,000 political figures, and historical data dating back to two centuries in some cases. We compared the mortality rates of the public with those of each politician based on their age, gender, and country. We then compared how many politicians died every year to the expected number based on mortality rates in the population. The difference between the remaining life expectancy of politicians at 45 years old (the average age when politicians are first elected) and that of the general public was also determined.

In the early and late 20th century, the mortality rate of politicians was similar to that of the population. In the second half 20th century, the lifespan of politicians increased more quickly, resulting in them living longer than the general population.

Above is a graph that shows recent life expectancy estimates for both politicians and the public. The life expectancy for politicians is less variable than the average life expectancy in different countries. Most countries have a life expectancy of around 40 years for politicians at age 45. Life expectancy for the general population varies from country to country (ranging between 34.5 in the US and 37.8 in Australia). Politicians can currently expect to live three to seven years more than the general public.

Across all the countries that had data available, throughout most of the 20th Century, the average remaining life expectancy for 45-year-old politicians increased by 14.6 years. The average life expectancy increase for the population in the same countries was 10.2 years.

Politicians

Politicians may live longer

Although income gaps and wealth disparities may explain some of these trends, it does not seem to be the sole factor. In the 1980s, income inequality began to increase (as measured by the percentage of total income that goes to the wealthiest in society). As early as 1940, the gap between the life expectancy of politicians and that of the general public started to grow.

The survival advantage of politicians may come from several reasons, such as differences in healthcare standards and lifestyle factors like smoking and eating habits. In the early 20th century, cigarettes were very popular. By the 1950s, smoking had spread to every section of society. It is not the same anymore. Smoking rates are down, thanks to public health measures such as the ban on tobacco advertisements. This is especially true for more privileged groups like politicians.

The introduction of modern campaigning techniques (such as television and social media), may have changed the kind of politician.

In general, women tend to live longer, however, in many countries, data about female politicians was only available after 1960. The trends of life expectancy differences between women politicians and the general population were the same for both men and women.

The public in many countries expects politicians to be transparent and open about their earnings. Other advantages, like a longer life expectancy for women, are not as well known. We focused our study only on high-income democratic countries, where the data was readily available. We could better understand global trends in health inequality by conducting more research, especially on low- and middle-income nations.

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