The Status Syndrome How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity

Michael Marmot

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

336 Pages



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You probably didn't realize that when you graduate from college you increase your lifespan, or that your co-worker who has a slightly better job is more likely to live a healthier life. In this groundbreaking book, epidemiologist Michael Marmot marshals evidence from nearly thirty years of research to demonstrate that status is not a footnote to the causes of ill health—it is the cause. He calls this effect the status syndrome.

The status syndrome is pervasive. It determines the chances that you will succumb to heart disease, stroke, cancers, infectious diseases, even suicide and homicide. And the issue, as Marmot shows, is not simply one of income or lifestyle. It is the psychological experience of inequality—how much control you have over your life and the opportunities you have for full social participation—that has a profound effect on your health.

The Status Syndrome will utterly change the way we think about health, society, and how we live our lives.


Praise for The Status Syndrome

"[The] cutting edge of public health research . . . [Marmot] transformed the health establishment's thinking about the link between status and health."—The New York Times

"Bold, important and masterful . . . Marmot's message is not just timely, it's urgent."— Eric Klinenberg, The Washington Post Book World

"Shows that all societies demonstrate the same truth . . . social status provides two crucial props to good health and personal well-being."—The Observer (London)

"Michael Marmot's pioneering work has already had a major impact on our understanding of the far-reaching social demands of public health. This wonderfully engaging book explains in an entirely accessible way how social inequality can have such a devastating effect on our health and mortality. It is a profound contribution to an extraordinarily important subject."—Amartya Sen, author of Development as Freedom and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics

"Michael Marmot is a world-class scientist who writes deeply about matters of life and death with the grace of a world-class essayist. This important new book encapsulates a quarter century of his research that shows how toxic inequality, hierarchy, and social isolation can be. Anyone concerned about the health of our society should read this book."—Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and Better Together

"Despite the widespread belief that molecular biology will soon vanquish disease, there remains the discomforting fact that health can be predicted to an astonishing extent by being poor, feeling poor, and being made to feel poor. Any discussion of this subject inevitably comes to the Rosetta stone of this field, Michael Marmot's Whitehall studies. Now Marmot offers a book that deciphers this phenomenon for the general public. Amid pages of wisdom, he proves himself to be a fun, accessible writer. The Status Syndrome is a wonderful, important book."—Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

"The Status Syndrome, beautifully written by the founder of the field, explores the life-shortening effects of social stress and lack of control. Michael Marmot combines the findings and the insights of many disciplines into a fascinating story of the nexus of social life and individual death."—Daniel Kahneman, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University, and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic

"Anybody who gives it a moment's thought knows that poor people tend to have more health problems than do the rich. But why? In The Status Syndrome, Michael Marmot tells us not only why being poor is lousy for one's health, but what can be done to bring health equity to the world. He has done us a great, great favor by writing this eminently readable, informative, and spectacular book."—Laurie Garrett, author of Betrayal of Trust and Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

"A wake-up call to those of us in the wealthy industrialized world who think our social status has no impact on our health. [The Status Syndrome] . . . will make readers look at the rat race in a whole new way."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Michael Marmot

  • Michael Marmot is a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College, London, where he is also the director of the International Center for Health and Society. He serves as an adviser to the World Health Organization and lectures around the world. He lives in London.

  • Michael Marmot