Gender-Specific Effects of Early-Life and Midlife Conditions on Exceptional Longevity

Leonid A. Gavrilov , University of Chicago
Natalia S. Gavrilova, University of Chicago

Knowledge of strong longevity predictors is important for improving population health. This study compared over 700 American centenarians born in 1890-1891 with their short-lived peers (living 65 years) born in the same time period. The records are taken from computerized family histories, which were then validated and linked to 1900, 1910, and 1930 U.S. censuses. Parental longevity was the only common longevity predictor for both men and women. Some early-life characteristics (birth in North East region and birth in the second half of year) turned out to be significant predictors of exceptional longevity for men but not women. We found strong positive effect of farmer occupation at middle age on exceptional longevity for men. Farmer occupation of husband had no beneficial effect on longevity of women. Only two factors were related to exceptional longevity of women: parental longevity and availability of radio in household in 1930. This study suggests that men are more sensitive to the effects of early-life conditions on longevity.

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 Presented in Session 113. Life Course Influences on Physical and Mental Health