Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova of the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center have been studying the longevity of American centenarians. To identify the 100-year-olds, they've been using the Internet.
[W]e extracted detailed family data for 991 alleged centenarians born in 1875-1899 in the United States from publicly available computerized genealogies of 75 million individuals identified in our previous study. . . . In order to validate the age of the centenarians, we linked these records to the Social Security Administration Death Master File records (for death date validation) and then to the records of the U.S. censuses for years 1900, 1910 and 1920 (for birth date validation). [Link (pdf)]The researchers found that three unexpected factors may contribute to an extra-long life:
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- Women and men who were the first born in large families were two to three times more likely to make it to 100 than later-born children.
- Those raised in the rural West had a better chance of reaching that age.
- People who were born in October and November had longer life expectancy than those born in April through June. [Link]