Childhood IQ and survival to 79: Follow-up of 94% of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947

Iva Čukić, Caroline E. Brett, Catherine M. Calvin, G. David Batty, Ian J. Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


To extend previous literature that suggests higher IQ in youth is associated with living longer. Previous studies have been unable to assess reliably whether the effect differs across sexes and ages of death, and whether the effect is graded across different levels of IQ.


We test IQ-survival associations in 94% of the near-entire population born in Scotland in 1936 who took an IQ test at age 11 (n = 70,805) and were traced in a 68-year follow-up.


Higher IQ at age 11 years was associated with a lower risk of death (HR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.79, 0.81). The decline in risk across categories of IQ scores was graded across the full range with the effect slightly stronger in women (HR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.77, 0.80) than in men (HR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.81, 0.84). Higher IQ had a significantly stronger association with death before and including age 65 (HR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.74, 0.77) than in those participants who died at an older age (HR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.78, 0.80).


Higher childhood IQ is associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality in both men and women. This is the only near-entire population study to date that examines the association between childhood IQ and mortality across most of the human life course.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-50
Early online date1 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • childhood intelligence
  • IQ
  • all-cause mortality
  • SMS1947
  • sex differences


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