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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 15;108(7):2693-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010076108. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety.

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1
Department of Psychology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27705, USA.

Abstract

Policy-makers are considering large-scale programs aimed at self-control to improve citizens' health and wealth and reduce crime. Experimental and economic studies suggest such programs could reap benefits. Yet, is self-control important for the health, wealth, and public safety of the population? Following a cohort of 1,000 children from birth to the age of 32 y, we show that childhood self-control predicts physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offending outcomes, following a gradient of self-control. Effects of children's self-control could be disentangled from their intelligence and social class as well as from mistakes they made as adolescents. In another cohort of 500 sibling-pairs, the sibling with lower self-control had poorer outcomes, despite shared family background. Interventions addressing self-control might reduce a panoply of societal costs, save taxpayers money, and promote prosperity.

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PMID:
21262822
PMCID:
PMC3041102
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1010076108
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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