Primate Evidence on the Late Health Effects of Early Life Adversity

Gabriella Conti, Christopher Hansman, James J. Heckman, Matthew F. X. Novak, Angela Ruggiero, Stephen J. Suomi

NBER Working Paper No. 18002
Issued in April 2012
NBER Program(s):   CH   HC   HE

This paper exploits a unique ongoing experiment to analyze the effects of early rearing conditions on physical and mental health in a sample of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We analyze the health records of 231 monkeys which were randomly allocated at birth across three rearing conditions: Mother Rearing, Peer Rearing, and Surrogate Peer Rearing. We show that the lack of a secure attachment relationship in the early years engendered by adverse rearing conditions has detrimental long-term effects on health which are not compensated by a normal social environment later in life.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18002

Published: “Primate Evidence on the Late Health Effects of Early Life Adversity” (with C. Hansman, J.J. Heckman, M. Novak, A.M. Ruggiero and S.J. Suomi). PNAS, 21 May 2012. Also available as NBER Working Paper no. 18002 and as IZA Discussion Paper no. 6495. Featured in the TIME and in The Science of Being Human.

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