People of higher social status have better health and happiness than their lowlier contemporaries, according to a leading epidemiologist.
But the effects of this “social gradient” on health can vary widely depending on time and location, reveals the latest research by Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London.
Over 30 years of research by Marmot has shown that in western countries, where absolute deprivation and poverty is rare, “income per se is not an issue”.
“Where you stand in the social hierarchy – on the social ladder – is intimately related to your chances of getting ill, and the length of your life,” writes Marmot in his book Status Syndrome.
And just a small difference in social status can have a big effect on health, he says. For example, people with doctorates live longer than those with Master’s degrees.