Childhood IQ, social class, deprivation, and their relationships with mortality and morbidity risk in later life: Prospective observational study linking the Scottish Mental Survey 1932 and the Midspan studies

C L Hart, M D Taylor, G D Smith, L J Whalley, John Starr, D J Hole, V Wilson, I J Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate how childhood mental ability (IQ) is related to mortality and morbidity risk, when socioeconornic factors are also considered. Methods: Participants were from the Midspan studies conducted on adults in the 1970s; 938 Midspan participants were successfully matched with the Scottish Mental Survey 1932 in which children born in 1921 and attending Scottish schools on June 1, 1932, took a cognitive ability test. Mortality, hospital admissions, and cancer incidence in the 25 years after the Midspan screening were investigated in relation to childhood IQ, social class, and deprivation. Results: The risk of dying in 25 years was 17% higher for each standard deviation disadvantage in childhood IQ. Adjustment for social class and deprivation category accounted for some, but not all, of this higher risk, reducing it to 12%. Analysis by IQ quartile showed a substantial increased risk of death for the lowest-scoring quarter only. Structural equation modeling indicated that the effect of childhood IQ on mortality was partly indirectly influenced by social factors. Cause-specific mortality or hospital admission showed that lower IQ was associated with higher risks for all cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Cause-specific mortality or cancer incidence risk was higher with decreasing IQ for lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-883
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • cohort
  • deprivation
  • mental ability
  • mortality
  • Scotland
  • social class
  • AGE 11 YEARS

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