Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2013 (Vol. 11), pp. 295–323
Determinants of exceptional human longevity:
new ideas and findings
Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova
Studies of centenarians are useful in identifying factors leading to long life and avoidance of fatal
diseases. In this article we consider several approaches to study effects of early-life and midlife
conditions on survival to advanced ages: use ofnon-biological relatives as controls, the within-family
analysis, as well as a sampling of controls from the same population universe as centenarians.
These approaches are illustrated using data on American centenarians, their relatives and unrelated shorter-
lived controls obtained from the online genealogies.
The within-family analysis revealed that young maternal age at person’s birth is associated with higher
chancesof exceptional longevity. Comparison of centenarians and their shorter-lived peers
(died at age 65 and sampled from the same pool of online genealogies) confirmed that birth timing
in the second half of the calendar year predicts survival to age 100.
Parental longevity as well as some childhood and midlife characteristics also proved to be significant
predictors of exceptional longevity
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