Tuesday, 3 July 2012, 6:00PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Children's Self-Control and the Health and Wealth of their Nation: Tracking 1000 children from birth to maturity

Professor Terrie Moffitt

Policy-makers are considering large-scale early intervention programs to enhance children's self-control, with the aim of reducing crime and improving citizens' health and wealth.
Experimental studies and economic analyses are suggesting that such programs could reap benefits for a nation. Yet, how important is childhood self-control for the health, wealth, and public safety of the adult population?
Following a population-representative cohort of 1000 New Zealand children from their birth in 1972 to age 38 in 2011, we show that childhood self-control predicts unplanned single-parenting, high-school drop out, criminal offending, addiction, heavy smoking, personal finances, savings for retirement, and physical health and illness. These effects of the children's self-control could be disentangled from their intelligence and their parents' social-class.
In another cohort of 500 UK twin-sibling-pairs, the sibling with better self-control at age 5 had better life outcomes than his twin sibling with weaker self-control, despite sharing the same parents and family background.
These predictions from childhood followed a gradient of self-control, suggesting a nation's health and wealth could be improved by enhancing self-control in all of its children. Early interventions enhancing the population's self-control skills might reduce a panoply of societal costs, save taxpayers money, and prepare everyone for successful aging.

This is part of a special series of lectures in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry.  Other lectures in this series on the Public Understanding of Psychiatry during this academic year include the following:
      Progress on the road to curing motor neuron disease
      Brain reconstruction
      The psychological health of the UK Armed Forces

speaker_terriemoffitt.jpg.crop_display.jpg

Professor of Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London

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3 July 2012

Children's Self-Control and the Health and Wealth of their Nation: Tracking 1000 children from birth to maturity
Professor Terrie Moffitt

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