Physical Markers at Young Age and Survival to 100: A Study of a New Historical Data Resource (The U.S. WWI Draft Cards)

Natalia S. Gavrilova, University of Chicago
Leonid A. Gavrilov, University of Chicago

This study explored whether people living to 100 and beyond were any different from their peers at their middle age (30 years) in terms of their physical characteristics (height and ‘build’). An individual’s height at young adult age seems to be a good indicator of person’s early nutritional and infectious disease history at least in historical data. The study took advantage of a new unique data resource – the US WWI Civilian Draft Registration Cards collected in 1917-1918, which covers 98% (24 millions) of the entire US male population at draft ages of 18-45 years. The US WWI draft cards were linked to exceptional longevity records obtained from the Social Security Administration database. The linked data were analyzed using a conditional multiple regression model for matched case-control studies to find out what combinations of the middle-life predictor variables are conductive for exceptional longevity in the United States.

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Presented in Poster Session 1