15/12/2016 11:53 AM AEDT | Updated 15/12/2016 5:29 PM AEDT

The Depressing Truth About Santa's Naughty Or Nice List

He doesn't care what you've been up to, as long as your parents are wealthy.

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Santa doesn't care whether you've been naughty or nice.

The British Medical Journal is a bastion for serious science research but for Christmas, researchers sought to test the myth that Santa Claus rewards children based on how nice or naughty they have been in the previous year.

The results are very sad.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the UK's Northern General Hospital looked at children aged 10-17 who happened to be in hospital over Christmas, and counted how many were visited by a Santa Clause character.

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Santas often visit hospitals all around the world.

Children living in wealthy areas were most likely to get a personal Santa visit.

And the children who weren't visited were not naughty at all. They were sick children in hospital who came from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The cold, hard numbers

Santa Claus visited most of the paediatric wards in all four countries studied: 89 per cent in England, 100 per cent in Northern Ireland, 93 per cent in Scotland, and 92 per cent in Wales.

The odds of him not visiting, however, were significantly higher for paediatric wards in areas of higher socioeconomic deprivation in England.

In contrast, there was no correlation with school absenteeism, conviction rates, or distance to the North Pole.

"It has long been thought that Santa Claus gives presents to nice but not naughty children," the report said.

"This is the first study, to our knowledge, to dispel the myth that Santa visits children based on behaviour and suggests socioeconomic deprivation plays a greater role in determining a visit.

"Undoubtedly deeper socioeconomic factors are at play, even impacting Santa Claus' abilities to reach out to every child.

"Whether his contract needs to be reviewed or local Santas employed in 'hard to reach' areas, all we want is for every child to be happy this Christmas."