Long hours and high pressure decisions don’t seem to have done MPs too much bad – in fact, they’re living 28 per cent longer than their constituents, according to new research involving a University of Exeter PhD student.
Conducted by John Dennis from the University Medical School and Dr Tim Crayford, chief medical advisor to Just Retirement and published in the British Medical Journal, the research examined mortality rates of nearly 5,000 members of the Houses of Parliament over a 65-year period between 1945 and 2011.
After comparing these with the general population’s mortality figures, taking into account age and sex, the research team found that for every 100 deaths in the wider population, there would be just 72 among MPs. The House of Lords enjoy even better rates, with life spans up to 37 per cent longer than the national average.
Aptly entitled ‘Parliamentary privilege – mortality in members of the Houses of Parliament compared with the UK general population’, the research showed that, despite considerable improvement in death rates between 1945 and 1999, the gap between MPs and the UK population consistently widened until 1999.
The second of its kind, the study mirrored the nearly 50-year-old original, which also discovered that parliamentarians tend to live longer than the national average. Crucially different, however, is the new finding that life expectancy now differs by political party, with the Conservatives having the lowest death rate of all politicians – a consequence of social background.
Education seemed to be the most decisive factor, however, with the relative mortality rates of MPs of either party who attended Oxbridge reduced by 29 per cent, compared with those who were not educated beyond state school.
“Social inequalities are alive and well in UK parliamentarians, and at least in terms of mortality, MPs are likely to have never had it so good,” the paper concluded.