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No. 41: Sep-Oct 1985

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Death And Social Class

A 10-year study of 17,530 London civil servants showed a strong relation between mortality rate and employment grade -- the higher the grade level, the lower the mortality rate. The mortality rate for unskilled laborers was three times that of high-level administrators.

Part of the disparity is doubtless due to differences in weight-to-height ratio, cigarette consumption, and amount of leisure-time exercise, which are also strongly correlated with mortality rate. But such personal habits tell only part of the story. Coronary heart disease, which accounted for 43% of all the deaths, was much more prevalent among the lower employment grades, even among monsmokers. Childhood nutrition and other "early life factors" also play roles. Nevertheless, a factor-of-three is a whopping difference in mortality rate.

(Anonymous; "Death, Be Not Proud," Scientific American, 253:68, July 1985.)

Comment. There are so many contributing factors here that we cannot be sure if a biological anomaly exists.

From Science Frontiers #41, SEP-OCT 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss