Adolescent Experience Affects Longevity: Evidence from Historical Epidemiology

April Falconi, University of California, Berkeley
Alison Gemmill, University of California, Berkeley
Ronald Dahl, University of California, Berkeley
Ralph Catalano, University of California, Berkeley

Human development reportedly includes critical periods during which environmental stressors can affect traits that persist throughout life. However, controversy remains over which, if any, of these periods provides an opportunity for such stressors to affect health, and longevity in the population. The elaboration of reproductive biology and its behavioral sequelae in the age span 10 to 14 years suggests such a critical period, particularly among males. Consistent with that suggestion, we show an inverse association between cohort death rates at age 10 through 14 and cohort life expectancy at age 20 and 40 in Swedish and French male cohorts born in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This association survives controlling for cohort death rates during infancy, ages 1 through 4, 5 through 9, and 15 through 19. Our findings imply that better-informed and more strategic management of the stressors encountered by early adolescents may improve population health.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 7