Who says winning isn't everything? Oh, yeah -- losers

Ransom Riggs

Everybody wants to be a winner, right? Even if the prize for winning stinks, being a loser stinks even more. But now, the competitive-spirited among us have a really compelling reason to avoid loser-dom: according to a recent study, winners live longer than losers, who die sooner. The study looked at Oscar-winners and two different kinds of Nobel prize-winners, and in every case, winners outstripped losers by several years. For instance:

  • Life expentancy for Oscar-winners is 79.7 years, vs. 75.8 years for losers. That's a 28% relative reduction in death rates, which is the statistical equivalent to curing all cancers in all people for all time. (This would seem to explain Clint Eastwood's unstoppable career, at a time when most directors his age are calling it a day.)
  • There were 235 Americans nominated for the Nobel prize in medicine between 1901 and 1949. Twenty-five won. The average age at death for the winners was 81. Average age at death for the losers was 77.
  • For the Nobel Peace Prize, there were 68 American nominees from 1901 to 1951. A dozen won. Those winners died at an average age of 80. The losers died at 76. Removing those who died within 5 years of being nominated (mean interval for peace prize) the average age at death for the losers was 62.