Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Conscientiousness Leads to Long Life; Divorce Kills, Even in the Second Generation

The Terman study followed smart kids from 1921 until the last of the subjects died. A new book, The Longevity Project, mines this data for clues about what makes for a long life, and what doesn't.

The main point: conscientious persistence in long-term projects with others is the single best predictor of long life.

And the main killer?

Parental divorce during childhood emerged as the single strongest predictor of early death in adulthood. The grown children of divorced parents died almost five years earlier, on average, than children from intact families. The causes of death ranged from accidents and violence to cancer, heart attack and stroke. Parental break-ups remain, the authors say, among the most traumatic and harmful events for children.


Tiger Mama said...

Now wait a minute. What cohort are they looking at? It's too early to get meaningful longevity data on my generation (born in the 70s), which was the first generation where divorced parents were common. In previous generations, parental divorce was a highly stigmatized condition, and was more likely to have been associated with extremely negative situations. One can't extrapolate from that to modern divorced families.

Anonymous said...

@Tiger Mama. Your logic fails. The data you disagree with covers a very long time frame of divorce. During this time frame, some people/essayists were trying to say that divorce does not hurt children. This data refutes that.

Just because there is less stigma these days does NOT mean that divorce is good for children.nchore 892