Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers 05/2006
This study addresses the mortality of the members of a learned society. Following the literature on the social gradient of mortality, members of a learned society should exhibit much lower death rates than other social groups. We use biographical records from the members of the Austrian Academy of Sciences between 1847 and 2005 and compare their mortality to Austrian life table death rates of the entire population and the population with tertiary education only, respectively. We find that the members of the Austrian Academy of Sciences experience far fewer deaths than if they were subject to the average Austrian life table mortality. The mortality differential even persists when comparing to the Austrian population with tertiary education, though to a smaller extent. Moreover, the mortality differential between the members of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Austrian population has widened over time, particularly since the mid-20th century.