Does being Prime Minister make you live longer?

churchill

An odd feature of post-war British political life has been the longevity of our leaders.

Three former Prime Ministers John Major (72),Tony Blair (62) and Gordon Brown (64) are all still alive and are not yet especially aged.

Nine former British PMs have died since the end of the Second War.

(Churchill, Attlee, Eden, Macmillan , Home, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher).

Seven out of nine of those who died  lived past 80 years old (Harold Wilson and Sir Anthony Eden both died, aged 79).

Six of the remaining seven made it to 85 (Attlee was 84).

Four of the remainder made it to 90.

Macmillan, Home and Callaghan all died aged 92. Churchill was 90. (Heath, 89 and Thatcher , 87 did not).

Four out of nine post-war prime ministers have thus lived into their nineties. Does being PM increase your lifespan? Or do the sort of people who become Prime Ministers just tend to live longer? It should be remembered that not all UK Prime Ministers have had privileged backgrounds (Thatcher, Heath and Wilson did not nor did Callaghan who lived longer than anyone else).

In the US, four post-war former presidents have lived into their nineties, two of whom Carter and George HW Bush are still alive. Bush is 91, Carter though seriously ill is 90. Ford, the longest lived former US president and Reagan both died aged 93.

Generally, the US trend is less impressive partly because Kennedy was assassinated in his forties and his successor Lyndon Johnson died prematurely at 64.

But overall the stats are still impressive: Hoover died aged 88 (he was not a post-war president but died in the post-war era). Truman died aged 88, Eisenhower was 78 and Nixon, 81. Since 1945, seven former presidents have made it to eighty (as opposed to four who did not) and four have made it to ninety.

Generally, being a world leader does seem to be good for your health.

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