“THE STATUS SYNDROME”: PROFESSOR MICHAEL MARMOT BOOK ON HEALTH AND SOCIETY

September 14, 2010 at 12:22 am | Posted in Books, Economics, Financial, Research, United Kingdom | Leave a comment

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The Status Syndrome:

How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity

by Michael G. Marmot

Social circumstances are key factors in dictating life expectancy and propensity to illness. The full extent to which we are at the mercy of social hierarchy is revealed in Marmot’s fascinating and troubling insight.

The rich countries of the world have remarkably good health. Malaria is long gone from Europe and the USA. Parasitic diseases do not wreak havoc with our lives. Infant mortality is below one in a hundred. Yet even so, where we stand in the social hierarchy is intimately related to our chances of getting ill and to how long we live. And the differences between top and bottom are getting bigger. This eye-opening book is based on more than twenty-five years of research that began with the Whitehall Studies in the 1980s.

These showed that even among white-collar employees with steady jobs there is a clear social gradient in health. Michael Marmot’s subsequent work took him round the world as he puzzled out the relationship between health and social circumstances. Everywhere from the US to Russia, from the Mediterranean to Australia, from Southern India to Japan, similar patterns emerged, showing that control over our lives and opportunities for full social participation are key factors for good health.

Why do Oscar winners live for an average of four years longer than other Hollywood actors? Who experiences the most stress – the decision-makers or those who carry out their orders? Why do the Japanese have better health than other rich populations, and Keralans in India have better health than other poor populations – and what do they have in common? In this eye-opening book, internationally renowned epidemiologist Michael Marmot sets out to answer these and many other fascinating questions in order to understand the relationship between where we stand in the social hierarchy and our health and longevity. It is based on more than thirty years of front-line research between health and social circumstances. Marmot’s work has taken him round the world showing the similar patterns that could be affecting the length of your life – and how you can change it.

Overview –

The Status Syndrome

Product Details:

· Pub. Date: August 2004

· Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.

· Format: Hardcover, 336pp

· ISBN-13: 9780805073706

· ISBN: 0805073701

· Edition Description: REV

Synopsis

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.

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. An adviser to the World Health Organization who lectures around the world on inequalities in health, he was awarded the 2004 Balzan Prize for Epidemiology.

You probably didn’t realize that when you graduate from college you increase your lifespan, or that a coworker who has a slightly better job is more likely to live a longer and healthier life. But these seemingly small differences in your social status—education, job title, income, even the size of your house or apartment—have a profound impact on your health.

In this groundbreaking book, Michael Marmot, an intemationally renowned epidemiologist, marshals evidence from around the world and from nearly thirty years of his own research to demonstrate the importance of status in our health, well-being, and longevity. For years we have focused on how advances in technology and genetics can extend our lives and cure disease. But, Marmot argues, we are looking at the issue backward. In the past, we have viewed social inequalities as a footnote to the real causes of ill-health; in fact, they are a major cause. He calls this effect the “status syndrome.”

The status syndrome is pervasive. It determines the chances that you will succumb to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, infectious diseases, even suicide and homicide. And the issue, as Marmot shows, is not simply one of income. Nor is it a case of differences in lifestyle—the likelihood that you are a smoker, or that you eat a high-cholesterol cheeseburger every day. It is the psychological experience of inequality—how much control you have over your life and the opportunities you have for full social participation—that has a profound effect on your health.

While the pervasiveness of the status syndrome may be alarming, it also provides hope. If we can understand social inequalities, we can mitigate their effects. For instance, by investing in early child development and the education system, we can give children a better chance of improving their status and thus their health as adults. By creating secure jobs that give employees some control over the way they manage their careers and reward them for their efforts, we can diminish the social inequalities and hhealth risks of the workplace. By providing older people, and communities in general, with support systems that increase social contact, we can improve health as well. While these are not the usual routes to curing disease, Marmot shows that they are critical ones.

At a time when good health has become one of the most pressing issues of civic life, The Status Syndrome points toward a way to close the gaps, and so will alter how we think about health and society—and how we live our lives.

“Michael Marmot’s pioneering work has already had a major impact on our understanding of the far-reaching social demands of public health. This wonderfully engaging book explains in an entirely accessible way how social inequality can have such a devastating effect on our health and mortality. It is a profound contribution to an extraordinarily important subject.”—Amartya Sen, author of Development as Freedom and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics

“Bold, important, and masterful.”—Eric Klinenberg, The Washington Post Book World

“Michael Marmot’s pioneering work has already had a major impact on our understanding of the far-reaching social demands of public health. This wonderfully engaging book explains in an entirely accessible way how social inequality can have such a devastating effect on our health and mortality. It is a profound contribution to an extraordinarily important subject.”—Amartya Sen, author of Development as Freedom and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics

“Michael Marmot is a world-class scientist who writes deeply about matters of life and death with the grace of a world-class essayist. This important new book encapsulates a quarter century of his research that shows how toxic inequality, hierarchy, and social isolation can be. Anyone concerned about the health of our society should read this book.”—Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and Better Together

“Despite the widespread belief that molecular biology will soon vanquish disease, there remains the discomforting fact that health can be predicted to an astonishing extent by being poor, feeling poor, and being made to feel poor. Any discussion of this subject inevitably comes to the Rosetta stone of this field, Michael Marmot’s Whitehall studies. Now Marmot offers a book that deciphers this phenomenon for the general public. Amid pages of wisdom, he proves himself to be a fun, accessible writer. The Status Syndrome is a wonderful, important book.”—Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

The Status Syndrome, beautifully written by the founder of the field, explores the life-shortening effects of social stress and lack of control. Michael Marmot combines the findings and the insights of many disciplines into a fascinating story of the nexus of social life and individual death.”—Daniel Kahneman, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University, and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic

“Anybody who gives it a moment’s thought knows that poor people tend to have more health problems than do the rich. But why? In The Status Syndrome, Michael Marmot tells us not only why being poor is lousy for one’s health, but what can be done to bring health equity to the world. He has done us a great, great favor by writing this eminently readable, informative, and spectacular book.”—Laurie Garrett, author of Betrayal of Trust and Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

The Washington Post – 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.

More Reviews and Recommendations

Biography

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.

The Status Syndrome:

How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity

by Michael G. Marmot

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