Chris Uggen's Blog: football players, rockers, and the SES gradient

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

football players, rockers, and the SES gradient

a journal of epidemiology and community health study shows high rates of early death among musicians. the sample was drawn from the ranks of especially successful musicians -- those playing on the top 1000 best-selling albums. i'd hypothesize that a comparison of musicians and non-musicians in a sample taken from the general population would reveal much smaller differences. that is, casual or frustrated rockers likely live longer than successful rockers.

one might make sense of this in terms of exposure to risk factors such as substance use, stds, and roadfood. where else might one expect a positive relationship between professional success and mortality? certainly one sees high rates of early death and health problems among professional football players and wrestlers, due in part to weight-related ailments.

kids still grow up dreaming about becoming rock stars and pro football players, of course, but i would imagine that their fallback/safety jobs are almost always better for their long-term health. if one buys the argument that the most serious and persistent criminal offenders are most likely to be incarcerated, mike massoglia's work has shown a similar gradient for deviant work: those incarcerated as young adults are subject to serious health deficits by midlife.

for a morbid take on the musician/health study, you might try the which dead rock star are you? quiz. according to said quiz, i share certain characteristics with the deceased king of rock and roll pictured above.


At 1:59 PM, Blogger Sara said...

I wonder how this quiz weights your answers... I am Kurt Cobain, though none of my answers seem to point in this direction with the exception that I have always enjoyed the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Hmmmm... I assume you became Elvis by admitting to a fondness for sequins?

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Dave P. said...

I am John Lennon. All right!

Per your hypothesis, I'm curious how working musicians -- the ones who slug it out six nights a week on the local scene, or spent the majority of the year on the road -- would fare. I'd have to think they'd be just as bad off, if not worse, than the successful musicians.

That's a tough way to make a living (and a big reason why I opted to go back to the PhD program at 37 rather than continue down that road).

At 10:15 PM, Blogger sarah said...

Turns out I've got a bit of the King in me, too. But Chris, if I ever, ever see you in a sequined jumpsuit, there will be an intervention!

At 10:36 PM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

hmmm... i can't vouch for the psychometric properties of this quiz, but at least it doesn't spit out the same answer to all who take it.

dave might be right, given the absence of health insurance. it seems as though i've been attending a ton of local help pay the medical bills concerts lately.

no jumpsuits, sarah, but i'm not completely ruling out another ziggy stardust period.


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