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Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity: Using Computerized Genealogies and Internet Resources for Human Longevity Studies

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Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity: Using Computerized Genealogies and Internet Resources for Human Longevity Studies. Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D. Leonid A. Gavrilov, Ph.D. Center on Aging NORC and University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois, USA.

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Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity:Using Computerized Genealogies and Internet Resources for Human Longevity Studies

Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D.

Leonid A. Gavrilov, Ph.D.

Center on Aging

NORC and University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, USA

centenarians represent the fastest growing age group in the industrialized countries
Centenarians represent the fastest growing age group in the industrialized countries

Yet, factors predicting exceptional longevity and its time trends remain to be fully understood

In this study we explored the new opportunities provided by the ongoing revolution in information technology, computer science and Internet expansion

Jeanne Calment (1875-1997)

revolution in information technology what does it mean for longevity studies

Revolution in Information TechnologyWhat does it mean for longevity studies?

Over 75 millions of computerized genealogical records are available online now!

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Computerized genealogies is a promising source of information about potential predictors of exceptional longevity: life-course events, early-life conditions and family history of longevity

computerized genealogies as a resource for longevity studies
Computerized Genealogies as a Resource for Longevity Studies
  • Pros: provide important information about family and life-course events, which otherwise is difficult to collect (including information about lifespan of parents and other relatives)
  • Cons: Uncertain data quality Uncertain validity and generalizability
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For longevity studies the genealogies with detailed birth dates and death dates for long-lived individuals (centenarians) and their relatives are of particular interest

In this study 1,001 genealogy records for centenarians born in 1875-1899 were collected and used for further age validation

steps of centenarian age verification
Steps of Centenarian Age Verification
  • Internal consistency checks of dates
  • Verification of death dates – linkage to the Social Security Administration Death Master File (DMF)
  • Verification of birth dates – linkage to early Federal censuses (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)
internet resources used in centenarian age verification
Internet Resources Used in Centenarian Age Verification

Social Security Administration Death Master File is publicly available at the Rootsweb website: http://ssdi.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi

Head of household indexes and census page images for 1900, 1920 and 1910 federal censuses are provided by Genealogy.com

Indexes of all persons enumerated by 1930 federal census and census page images are provided by Ancestry.com

conclusions of the age verification study
Conclusions of the Age Verification Study
  • Death dates of centenarians recorded in genealogies always require verification because of strong outliers (1.3%, misprints)
  • Birth dates of centenarians recorded in genealogies are sufficiently accurate - 92% are correct; for the remaining 8% only one-year disagreements
  • Quality of genealogical data is good enough if these data are pre-selected for high data quality
birth order and chances to become a centenarian
Birth Order and Chances to Become a Centenarian

Cases - centenarians born between 1890 and 1899

Controls – their siblings born in the same time window

Model:

where x – birth order; z – family size; a, b, c, d – parameters of polynomial regression model

case control study of early life conditions and exceptional longevity
Case-Control Study of Early-Life Conditions and Exceptional Longevity

Cases - households where centenarians were raised (from centenarian records linked to 1900 census)

Controls – 1% random sample of households with children below age 10enumerated by 1900 census (from Integrated Public Use Microdata Sample, IPUMS: http://www.ipums.umn.edu/usa/index.html)

childhood residence and survival to age 100 odds for household to be in a centenarian group
Childhood Residence and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – New England and Middle Atlantic (reference group)

B – Mountain West and Pacific West

C – Southeast and Southwest

D – North Central

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Household Property Status During Childhood and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – Rented House (reference group)

B – Owned House

C – Rented Farm

D – Owned farm

paternal immigration status and survival to age 100 odds for household to be in a centenarian group
Paternal Immigration Status and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – Father immigrated (reference group)

B – Father native-born

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Age of Father at Census Date and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – Father <50 years (reference group)

B – Father 50+ years

mortality of siblings and survival to age 100 odds for household to be in a centenarian group
Mortality of Siblings and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – Less than 70% of siblings survived (reference group)

B – More than 70% of siblings survived (reference group)

gender specific factors affecting survival to age 100
Gender-Specific Factors Affecting Survival to Age 100

Males - father’s immigrant status decreases chances to become a centenarian

Females – father older than 50 years in household and poor survival of siblings (less than 70%) decreases chances to become a centenarian

further extension of this study using data from the social security death master file dmf
Further Extension of this Study: Using Data from the Social Security Death Master File (DMF)

(1) Study of cohort mortality at advanced ages: Estimation of hazard rates for each month of age for extinct birth cohorts.

(2) Month of birth and mortality after age 80: Estimation of life expectancy in real birth cohort according to month of birth.

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Computerized genealogies is a valuable resource for longevity studies, which could and should be used more extensively
  • Early-life conditions are important predictors of survival to extreme ages as well as of old-age mortality
  • Centenarians are more likely to have lower birth orders (women in particular)
  • Late-life mortality deceleration appears to be not that strong - cohort mortality at advanced ages continues to grow up to age 105 years
acknowledgments

Acknowledgments

This study was made possible thanks to:

generous support from the

Society of Actuaries

stimulating working environment at the Center on Aging, NORC/University of Chicago

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For More Information and Updates Please Visit Our Scientific and Educational Website on Human Longevity:
  • http://longevity-science.org
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