Children with high IQs are more likely to live longer

Monday, 3 July, 2017

Professor Ian Deary and colleagues (Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology/ Psychology) have followed up more than 65,000 people who took part in The Scottish Mental Survey in 1947 at the age of 11, to examine the association between intelligence measured in childhood and leading causes of death in men and women over the life course.

Researchers examined the association between intelligence test scores measured at age 11 (The Scottish Mental Health Survery 1947) and the leading causes of death in men and women up to age 79. Their findings are based on data from 33 536 men and 32 229 women born in Scotland in 1936, who took this childhood intelligence test, and who could be linked to cause of death data up to December 2015.

Their findings show that by the age of 79, having a high IQ lowered the risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory diseases. There was also a lower risk of dying from injuries, digestive diseases and dementia.  

Professor Ian Deary said: "I'm being optimistic about these results. I'm hoping it means that if we can find out what smart people do and copy them, then we have a chance of a slightly longer and healthier life. We don't fully know yet why intelligence from childhood and longevity are related, and we are keeping an open mind. Lifestyles (eg not smoking), education, health literacy, less deprivation, and genetics might all play a part. We and other research teams are testing these ideas."