The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity

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Overview

Based on decades of his own research, a pioneering epidemiologist reveals the surprising factors behind who lives longer and why

You probably didn't realize that when you graduated from college you increased your lifespan, or that your co-worker who has a master's degree is more likely to live a longer and healthier life. Seemingly small social differences in education, job title, income, even the size of your house or apartment have a profound...

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The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity

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Overview

Based on decades of his own research, a pioneering epidemiologist reveals the surprising factors behind who lives longer and why

You probably didn't realize that when you graduated from college you increased your lifespan, or that your co-worker who has a master's degree is more likely to live a longer and healthier life. Seemingly small social differences in education, job title, income, even the size of your house or apartment have a profound impact on your health.

For years we have focused merely on how advances in technology and genetics can extend our lives and cure disease. But as Sir Michael Marmot argues, we are looking at the issue backwards. Social inequalities are not a footnote to the real causes of ill health in industrialized countries; they are the cause. The psychological experience of inequality, Marmot shows, has a profound effect on our lives. And while this may be alarming, it also suggests a ray of hope. If we can understand these social inequalities, we can also mitigate their effects.

In this groundbreaking book, Marmot, an internationally renowned epidemiologist, marshals evidence from around the world and from nearly thirty years of his research to demonstrate that how much control you have over your life and the opportunities you have for full social participation are crucial for health, well-being, and longevity. Just as Bowling Alone changed the way we think about community in America, The Status Syndrome will change the way we think about our society and how we live our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Eric Klinenberg
Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College, London, calls this phenomenon the status syndrome. His bold, important and masterful new book not only explains the social sources of this global pandemic, it sets an agenda for a radically different approach to health policy. Drawing from his work as a participant in the British government's Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health (published as the Acheson Report), Marmot argues that investing in child care and better education for the disadvantaged, cleaning hazardous urban environments, and providing social support for the elderly are the best antidotes to the status syndrome.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
With 30 years of research and a catchy name for his theory, epidemiologist Marmot gives a wake-up call to those of us in the wealthy industrialized world who think our social status has no impact on our health: whether you look at wealth, education, upbringing or job, health steadily worsens as one descends the social ladder, even within the upper and middle classes. Beyond a simple explanation of how the deprivation of extreme poverty leads to disease, Marmot shows that life expectancy declines gradually from the upper crust to the impoverished. The odds are that your boss will live longer than you and that Donald Trump will outlive us all. Marmot bases his conclusions on his study of British civil servants, but backs up his theory at every turn with mountains of other research, from experiments on rhesus monkeys to studies of cigarette factory workers in India. For a book based on statistics, the text contains only a few graphs, but Marmot still provides a comprehensive overview of the current understanding of how our health depends on the society around us, and particularly on the sense of autonomy and control one has over one's life. As an adviser to the World Health Organization, Marmot has had the opportunity to make policy recommendations based on his theory. The Status Syndrome may not be a page-turner, but it will make readers look at the rat race in a whole new way. Agent, Rob McQuilkin. (Aug. 9) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Recently, researchers have turned their attention to the relationship between social status and health in richer countries. Marmot (epidemiology & public health, University Coll., London) illustrates how, time and again, health appears to follow a gradient based on social status-i.e., the lower the status, the worse the health; all social groups are affected, not just those at the bottom or the top. This phenomenon appears to continue even after accounting for differences in genetics, diet, smoking habits, and exercise. Marmot supports his thesis with evidence from numerous studies, particularly the Whitehall research, which followed 18,000 British civil servants over several decades and indicated that the more opportunity people have for social engagement and the greater control that they have over their lives, the better their health. Although the book is scholarly in format, jargon is kept to a minimum. Highly recommended for public health collections.-Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805073706
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/9/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir Michael Marmot is a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College, London, where he is also the director of the International Center for Health and Society. He serves as an adviser to the World Health Organization and lectures around the world about inequalities in health. He lives in London.

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Table of Contents

1 Some are more equal than others 13
2 Men and women behaving badly? 37
3 Poverty enriched 61
4 Relatively speaking 82
5 Who's in charge? 104
6 Home alone 138
7 Trusting together 164
8 The missing men of Russia 190
9 The travails of the fathers ... and mothers 215
10 The moral imperative and the bottom line 239
App Recommendations from the Independent inquiry into inequalities in health 259
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2006

    groups yes, individuals not accounted for

    The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity is a rare book. It is both detailed and well researched, something that usually brings to mind a textbook and visions of eyelids drooping. In this case that is not true. I am not a health professional and usually health books put me to sleep. This book is a page-turner, a real surprise for me. My copy is underlined and highlighted profusely, a testement to my involvement and my attention to this subject of health and how status determines our quality of life. My regret is that Michael Marmot did not delve into the potential for an individual to raise his or her status by direct action or intent. If a father would like to raise the status of his children for instance, how would he plan for that in a five-year family plan, as an example? The question simply never comes up. The issue and problem is well defined in this book. Marmot did place recommendations on issues in the back of the book for governments and communities to address. But he conspicuously left out the individual in his recommendations on what to do. Perhaps this subject is something that is planned for a forthcoming book. As a retiree from the US Navy I can see so much of this subject better now after reading the book and I can also better relate to what I have not directly observed. I wonder what additional data Marmot would have gathered if he had studied the British Navy? Sailors in the British Navy have a 20-year length of service, something that would have given his data field more stability in length if I understand some of his testing methodologies. Perhaps he will evaluate them in the future? My query related to his investigation of the Royal Navy would include the often-observed phenomena of some retirees suffering an unusual frequency of severe health related issues soon after leaving the service, depending on his or her relationship with the service and the social relationships which are often severed upon ones retirement, which not only involved the physical departure from a unit but also often involves leaving the only job they know. Individuals reading this book come away with tons of questions. Perhaps a policy maker has the podium to implement a plan or a call for action that this book recommends. But individuals do not. The real missing portion of this book is just that, the personal human individual who would like to have more control over their life and set up their kids for something better as well. This question simply was not answered, an unfortunate oversight to an otherwise outstanding book on a topic which everyone should care about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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