The Annals of Applied Statistics

The effect of winning an Oscar Award on survival: Correcting for healthy performer survivor bias with a rank preserving structural accelerated failure time model

Xu Han, Dylan S. Small, Dean P. Foster, and Vishal Patel

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We study the causal effect of winning an Oscar Award on an actor or actress’s survival. Does the increase in social rank from a performer winning an Oscar increase the performer’s life expectancy? Previous studies of this issue have suffered from healthy performer survivor bias, that is, candidates who are healthier will be able to act in more films and have more chance to win Oscar Awards. To correct this bias, we adapt Robins’ rank preserving structural accelerated failure time model and g-estimation method. We show in simulation studies that this approach corrects the bias contained in previous studies. We estimate that the effect of winning an Oscar Award on survival is 4.2 years, with a 95% confidence interval of [−0.4, 8.4] years. There is not strong evidence that winning an Oscar increases life expectancy.

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Ann. Appl. Stat. Volume 5, Number 2A (2011), 746-772.

First available in Project Euclid: 13 July 2011

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Causal inference survival analysis Oscar Award rank preserving structural accelerated failure time model g-estimation.


Han, Xu; Small, Dylan S.; Foster, Dean P.; Patel, Vishal. The effect of winning an Oscar Award on survival: Correcting for healthy performer survivor bias with a rank preserving structural accelerated failure time model. Ann. Appl. Stat. 5 (2011), no. 2A, 746--772. doi:10.1214/10-AOAS424.

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Supplemental materials

  • Supplementary material A: Oscar Award data for actors and actresses. We have compiled a data file that records the nominees and winners for each award (best lead actor, best lead actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress) on each Oscar Award date. We collected the data from The selection interval spanned from the inception of the Oscar Awards to July 25, 2007.
  • Supplementary material B: R code for data analysis and simulation. We provide the R code for our data analysis and simulation studies. File “R code.txt” is for preprocessing the Oscar data and data analysis in Section 4. File “simulation 1.txt” is for the simulation studies in Sections 2.4 and 3.5, especially for Tables 4, 12, and Figure 3. File “simulation 2.txt” is for the simulation studies in Tables 5–10 and Figures 1 and 2.