A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety.
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.
Moffitt, TE; Arseneault, L; Belsky, D; Dickson, N; Hancox, RJ; Harrington, H; Houts, R; Poulton, R; Roberts, BW; Ross, S; Sears, MR; Thomson, WM; Caspi, A
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