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The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity [Hardcover]

Michael Marmot , M. G. Marmot
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2004
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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books (July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805073701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805073706
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.3 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Anyone concerned about the health of our society should read this book.’ -- Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and Better Together

'He has done us a great, great favor by writing this eminently readable, informative, and spectacular book.’ -- Laurie Garrett, author of Betrayal of Trust

'Michael Marmot ... has done us a great, great favor by writing this eminently readable, informative, and spectacular book.’ -- Laurie Garrett, author of Betrayal of Trust

Status Syndrome is packed with ideas that should have been coursing through public debate for years now. -- Independent

Marmot's new book has been greeted as a groundbreaking insight into the connection between "social life and individual death". -- The Times

Marmot...argues that the higher your standing, the more autonomy you have over your life...and the better your health. -- The Guardian

Sir Michael has a world-class reputation, thanks to three decades of research. -- Daily Telegraph

‘Anyone concerned about the health of our society should read this book.’ -- Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and Better Together --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sir Michael Marmot is Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and Director of the International Centre for Health and Society, University, College, London, and Adjunct Professor of Health and Social Behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 26 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
This is one of those books that can shift perspectives and change one's attitudes to major issues. Lots has been written about Marmot's work and I won't repeat the main arguments here. Just to say that Marmot focuses on the often poorly understood world of the psycho-social - a world interrelated with but also different from the worlds of individual choice, genetic predisposition, and the incidence of disease. As someone working in the fields of psychotherapy and in community health, I really hope that this book and the results of other epidemiological research continues to develop and to have a meaningful impact on government policy.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration, by numbers 11 Jun 2004
Format:Hardcover
Michael Marmot's mastery of complex, multi-factorial epidemiological "puzzles" finds a crystal clear output in this revelatory book. Status Syndrome brings together many themes around the social determinants of health and makes clear for a broad readership (including opinion leaders in health and social policy!) why reducing social inequalities is so important for the health of populations.
I will certainly be recommending it for my public health trainees, and I hope professionals from many backgrounds with the potential to create a more cohesive, trustworthy and co-operative society will also read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Important science, well explained 12 Sep 2013
By Pots
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book explains some important concepts and summarises the evidence clearly. A great place to begin if you want an introduction to the literature on health inequalities. Prepare to be persuaded by Marmot's point of view.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars st sy 13 Sep 2010
By mb
Format:Paperback
needed this book for my degree course. very cheap on amazon. good read even if you are not studying.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A topic in its infancy 28 Sep 2004
By N N Taleb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
You are a hot shot in a company, though not the boss. You are paid extremely well, but, again you have plenty of bosses above you (say the partners of an investment firm). Is it better than deriving a modest income being your own boss? The counterintuive answer is NO. You will live longer in the second situation, even controlling for diet, lifestyle, and genetic predispositions.

Marmot spent years poring over data; he left no stone unturned and is well read in the general literature on human nature. This idea of people living longer when they exert control over their lives has not spread yet. That people lead longer lives when they trust their neighbors and feel part of a community is far reaching. Just think of the implications on social justice etc. Also think that everything you learn on human preferences and well-being in both economics and medicine is either incomplete (medicine) or bogus (economics).

The book is well written, humorous at times, and rigorous --it reads like a well-translated scientific paper. But it feels that it is just the introduction to a topic. Please, write the continuation.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important contribution to understanding health inequalities 20 Dec 2005
By Nicholas in Moscow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Marmot began his important work on social determinants of health with two long term studies of the British Civil Service finding that those who enjoyed higher status roles had better health and longer life expectancy than those who had lower status roles. This gradient from higher to lower applied throughout the service. Why was it so? And did it apply in other social and cultural contexts?

This book is a compelling exploration of the commonality of this phenomenum throughout both developed/transitional and developing country contexts, exploring the evidence and sifting the reasons for it. Status is found to be crucial - people with more opportunity to control their lives are more resiliant to stress and enjoy better health as a result (I simplify). It is not that healthier people enjoy better status because they are healthier - an argument carefully considered and dismissed - but people enjoying social contexts that enable them to secure status will enjoy better health and longer life. This applies as much to the rich social opportunities of Kerala in India as it does to an upper middle class suburb in the United States. Poverty, in itself, once basic needs are met, is not the issue as long as it is equally shared with all, what matters is the disequilibrium between people's status and being in the population denied access to opportunity to control one's life. The book is well-written, closely argued, and could change how you see the world for good.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable teaching aid for public health students 3 Oct 2005
By Professor Woody Caan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is the perfect introduction to the study of Health Inequalities, especially in the context of occupational health. Students are gripped.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where you rank affects your health 3 Sep 2011
By C. Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michael Marmot's book, The Status Syndrome, is about how a person's social rank influences his or her health. The book's focus is on conditions in the richer countries, as opposed to those nations so poor that one would expect poor health. Social rank may be measured in a number of different ways, such as education, or income. Marmot, a British health researcher trained as a medical doctor, did much of his research on the British civil service, which ranks its employees with some precision. He emphasizes that rank does not act like a binary variable, leaving the poorest in poor health and everyone else in reasonably good health, but rather in a continuous fashion, with those of middling rank having health outcomes midway between those of the lowest and highest social ranks.

The great difficulty with social science research such as this is to disentangle confounding hypotheses in circumstances where an experiment is impossible. Here, besides the hypothesis that social rank has direct effects on health, there are at least two other major alternative hypotheses, first that its a sickly nature that reduces ones social rank, and second that those at the top of the pyramid are just generally more able people than those lower down. Studies of social mobility indicate a direct effect of one's current circumstances on health. Furthermore, experimental studies with non-human primates also show that the animal's place in the social hierarchy effects health in the same way observed in human populations. What an ecologist would call a natural experiment, the fall of communism in eastern Europe and the economic disruption that subsequently occurred, also provides evidence that a person's place in the social hierarchy affects his or her health. The proximal benefits of a higher social rank seem to be not just more money, but also more control over you life. Both of these reduce chronic stress, which appears to be the cause of the health problems of those lower down. Being busy or having a responsible job does not cause stress if you can control your own working conditions.

Marmot believes that humans have an innate dispoisition to form social hierarchies, based on his understanding of what is called evolutionary psychology. Or at least human males do; women may be somewhat inadvertantly caught up in the process. Womens' health responds to their social position similarly to men. The more cooperative nature of women may bring men to act more cooperatively, as mens' tendency to create hierarchy may cause women to act hirarchically. I cannot claim to know enough population genetics to comment on the validity of these ideas, which are however similar to those I was exposed to in a graduate ecology program which had a number of persons interested in animal behavior on its faculty.

Marmot believes that the effects of social hierachy can be ameliorated if not eliminated, through government policies to improve education among the disadvantaged and redistribute wealth. He was part of a committee which made recommendations along these lines to the Blair government in the 1990s. To me, these ideas (the recommendations are listed in an appendix to the book) seem utopian in an American context.

I published a similar review at goodreads.com
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really cool - to help you live longer 12 Mar 2010
By Eric William - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this book ONLY to read the research. Often it is true, that the truth, is not logical. ... or at least counter-intuitive. I ignored all the social ramblings. This book is WELL RESEARCHED. It seems status DOES predict life expectancy! Very interesting research and conclusions. Definitely motivating.

... I'll live longer if I get my PhD.

More control/autonomy in one's live = more life. Who knew!

Great book! Worth the read - or even a skim.
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