A new study shows that industry downturns age CEOs by an extra 1.5 years

It’s often observed that US presidents seem to age faster during their years in office, their newly grey hairs and deepened wrinkles serving as outward manifestations of the stress and pressure that comes with calling the nation’s shots.

CEOs appear to be vulnerable to the same phenomenon, according to a new discussion paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, looks at how stressful situations like takeover threats and economic crises impact the appearance and long-term health of CEOs.

Among the paper’s most striking findings: Business leaders at the helm of a company during an industrywide downturn have a higher mortality risk, equivalent to aging them by one and a half years. They look older, too: A machine-learning analysis of executives’ photographs found that CEOs in industries hit hard by the Great Recession appeared, post-crisis, about one year older than their more fortunate counterparts.

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