Nobel prize = 2 years?

In a new study, economists Matthew Rablen and Andrew Oswald find that winning a Nobel prize adds between 1 and 2 years extra longevity. (Here is the paper). Now the vast majority of Nobel prize winners are still alive so they looked at Nobel prize winners in Physics and Chemistry between 1901 and 1950.

Winning a prize gives social status and wealth. They control for wealth and show that that isn’t a factor. But what of social status? They are not comparing winner to the rest of the population or even the scientific population. Instead, they compared winners to nominees; that is, winners to people who knew they lost. Now, they have to be a little careful here. Nominees might also win if they live long enough. So they only look at nominees who lived up to the age at which the winner won a Nobel prize.

But the question remains: is it the boost in status of winning a Nobel prize that increases lifespan or the stress or fact of getting so close as to be nominated but not winning that decreases lifespan? I don’t think this research really answers that although they did note that the number of nominations you received didn’t matter. However, that effect could go either way in that being nominated lots of times might cause you to ‘hang on.’

One thought on “Nobel prize = 2 years?”

  1. Nominees don’t know that they have been nominated, at least for 50 years. So the group of people who actually get close to winning but don’t win, don’t know for sure at the time.

    There may be another group of people who think that they are close, get the stress you mention, but may or may not have even been nominated.

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