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Do the Rich and Famous Have Shorter Lifespans?


Does the full-throttle lifestyle of the rich and famous make one burn out a little faster? A study that examined New York Times obits concluded exactly that, finding that folks who found a mix of notoriety and success tend to die younger.

But business people who were successful without the fame tend to outlast the average lifespan. Seems it’s better for your health to get rich but shy away from the limelight.

Australian researchers examined the age and cause of death cited in 1,000 consecutive New York Times obits printed between 2009 and 2011, according to The Atlantic.

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The study defined success as a life commended with an obit in the famous newspaper. Some of the people were wealthy and well-known, the article says. Think performers, athletes, authors and musicians. Others in business, military or political or professional, religious and academic fields were noted mostly for success over notoriety.

Those both successful and known died sooner, the study found. On average, performer and athletes passed away at 77.2 years – not young, really, but not as old as their lesser-known-but-sitll-successful counterparts in other jobs.

Business types outlasted the others, with an average death age of 83, nearly five years higher than the 2010 national average lifespan.

Givers, like philanthropists, teachers and physicians tended to die of “old age,” natural causes that happened least amongst creatives, The Atlantic says.

That’s good incentive to pick a job that pays well, but also presents a chance to give back. Dig through our salary database to find out how much you can earn in fields that promise a longer lifespan, like academia, nonprofit work and creative fields.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think of the connection between fame, success and lifespan? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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(Photo Credit: Ben Sherman/Wikimedia Commons)

Jennifer Wadsworth
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