Friday 28 October 2016

Taoisigh bucking trend of early death and are living to ripe old age

Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is still looking fresh-faced at 64
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is still looking fresh-faced at 64
Éamon De Valera lived to 94 following retirement

Irish politicians appear to be bucking the international trend of suffering early death due to the stresses of being head of government.

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A new study of 17 countries, including Ireland, published today, suggests politicians elected to head of government may experience accelerated ageing and premature death due to the stress of leadership and political life - especially when compared with their rival runner-up candidates.

A team of researchers at Harvard Medical School in the United States conducted the research. However, it seems Irish Taoisigh are bucking the trend and tend to live to a ripe old age.

The current incumbent Enda Kenny (64) looks fresh-faced despite presiding over the recent years of austerity.

Éamon de Valera lived to 94 and Charles Haughey was 85 when he died.

Jack Lynch enjoyed a good retirement and passed away at 82.

The observational study, published in the Christmas issue of the 'British Medical Journal', compared the survival of 279 nationally elected leaders from 17 countries with 261 unelected candidates who never served in office, from 1722 to 2015.

They then measured the number of years alive after each candidate's last election, relative to what would be expected for an average individual of the same age and sex as the candidate during the year of the election.

After adjusting for life expectancy at time of last election, elected leaders lived 2.7 fewer years and had a 23pc increased risk of death than runners-up.

The researchers point out some study limitations, but conclude that "heads of government had substantially accelerated mortality compared to runner-up candidates," and suggest that "elected leaders may indeed age more quickly."

In the second study, UK researchers examined mortality in almost 5,000 members of the two UK Houses of Parliament compared with the general population over a 65-year period, from 1945 to 2011.

They found that the death rates of MPs were 28pc lower than those of the general population, while Lords experienced 37pc lower relative mortality. Mortality among Conservative MPs was lowest.

Irish Independent

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