Thursday, July 20, 2006

Social Class and Life Expectancy   posted by DavidB @ 7/20/2006 04:17:00 AM

It is well known that people in the lower social classes on average die earlier than those in higher social classes. Obviously this could be due to factors of nature, nurture, or any combination thereof.

A new study by a reputable twin research unit in England casts some light on this. As reported by the BBC here, the study included some female MZ pairs who had married into different social classes. The results showed a significant difference in a physical indicator of ageing (telomere length), with those twins who married lower-class husbands ageing faster. As the twins have the same genes (quibbles about somatic mutations aside) this must be an environmental effect. The authors speculatively attribute it to the stress of lower social class life. Or maybe it is just the stress of marrying low class husbands??

An important caveat: the sample size is small, and another study is said not to have found significant effects.