A 70-Year Study of 70,000 Children Says This Is the Secret to Raising Successful Kids

By Jessica Stillman for inc.com

You may have read about Harvard’s Grant study, which followed 268 Harvard students for more than 70 years to figure out the keys to health and happiness (hint: the answer is just one word). The media has made a lot of hay out of the long-running research, oohing and aahing at its length and scope.

But I’ve got to tell you, the Harvard study is peanuts compared to the British birth cohorts.

After World War II scientists in the UK began what became a truly gargantuan undertaking. Interested in the conditions for mothers in the war-ravaged country, researchers decided to survey every woman who gave birth over a one week period in 1946. The result was some 14,000 detailed questionnaires about every aspect of birth in Britain at the time.

Then a generation later, they did it again, and again and again, surveying around 70,000 kids as they moved through their lives over a 70-year time period to see how they were doing in terms of health, education, and overall thriving. You can imagine the reams and reams of data generated.

What does it all boil down to? That is an enormous and ongoing question, but author Helen Pearson has a few powerful conclusions to share. In a TED talk last year (full talk below, hat tip to Swiss Miss) she explained what she learned as a scientist and mother from the experience of writing her book, The Life Project, on the cohort studies.

Read more here.

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