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Does a political career reduce life expectancy?

It suddenly occurred to me in the heat of Saturday night’s election, or perhaps it was Hone’s expression of disappointment, that being a politician must be awfully stressful. Your jobs up for grabs every 3 years, the stress of political life is well documented by every serving politician.

Conventional wisdom has it that occupational stress worsens health. Since politicians face stressful conditions, such as significant pressure, high-stakes decisions, an irregular work schedule, long working hours and large amounts of travel, they may disproportionately suffer from bad health. We’re constantly reminded how our politicians have a civic calling, none are in it for the financial reward, people of their caliber could earn twice as much in the private sector (or working for Auckland City Council) if the Parliamentary Review Committee on MP salaries is to be believed.

One would think there would be an abundance of research showing the less than average mortality of our overworked, underpaid politician’s given that stress is the world’s biggest killer; Right?

Here is the amazing thing… according to my Google research I learned that there is no empirical results supporting the hypothesis that serving in a political office has a causal effect on longevity. This leads to two possible conclusions: Either, work related stress is not a major driver for bad health among politicians, or the job as politician is less stressful than expected.

Some classic example of politicians and kings that refuse to fade!

Politician Country Age Quote of note
King Bhumibol Adulyadej Thailand 87 Nature is something outside our body, but the mind is within us
Shimon Perez Israel 91 The internet, Facebook and Twitter have created mass communications and social spaces that regimes cannot control.
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe 90 On criticism: "Only God, who appointed me, will remove me - not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me!"
Fidel Castro Cuba 88 They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?
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