April 26, 2004

The Life-Spans of Academics

Posted by Ed

Over the weekend, The New York Times published an entertaining article on a recent study showing--its authors believe--that poets don't live as long as novelists or nonfiction writers:

Overall, poets lived an average of 62.2 years, compared with nonfiction writers, who lived the longest at 67.9 years. Playwrights lived an average of 63.4 years; novelists, 66 years. The differences between poetry and prose were pronounced among Americans, where poets lived an average of 66.2 years, and nonfiction writers lived an average of 72.7 years.

"The image of the writer as a doomed and sometimes tragic figure, bound to die young, can be backed up by research," Mr. Kaufman wrote in his study, "The Cost of the Muse: Poets Die Young," published in the journal Death Studies in November 2003.

This got me to thinking... How long do academics live, relative to people who pursue other professions? Which academics have the longest life-spans, on average? And which academics have the highest quality of life overall?

I'll refrain from posting my own random musings on this question. Suffice it to say that chemists and historians seem especially unlikely to be happy in graduate school (and especially likely to work really hard); I've known plenty of English, math, and physics grad students who seemed to have lots of free time on their hands. The cynical part of me wonders whether, when you add in the pressures of the job market, historians might rank low on a list of life expectancies for academics... Then again, the skeptical part of me isn't necessarily convinced by the study I've linked to above, and I'm sure that practically all grad students like to complain about their lot in life.

Posted by Ed at April 26, 2004 02:00 PM

I think the more interesting profession you have the more likely is the chance of a longer life.
But if the job is too stressful it will have
a negative effect and strongly decrease the
longevity. Many people in my country Sweden
feel that the stress makes the otherwize interesting and stimulating job less attractive.
According to a recent poll about 35 % of those
asked wanted to have another job with less stress.
Doctors and jounalists have stressful jobs
and are therefore low on the listof longevity.
Priests are at the top of the list !
Being a teacher myself I find my job in the
middle of the list. My job has become more
stressful the last ten years. And the trend
is similar in almost every walk of life.
It doesn't look promising for the future.
What can we do about it ? I have no good
answer !

Yours truly

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