Hofer & Clouston, 2014. Commentary: On the Importance of Early Life Cognitive Abilities in Shaping Later Life Outcomes.


Early-life cognitive ability is likely to be dynamically related to life course factors including educational attainment, occupational outcomes, health behaviors, activities, health, and subsequent cognitive health. Disentangling the selective and causal processes contributing to cognitive functioning across the life span is challenging and requires long-term investments in longitudinal data. The authors discuss results from several analyses using data from the Individual Development and Adaptation longitudinal research program that provide fresh insights into the relation of early-life cognition, particularly high levels of cognitive capabilities, to educational achievement, emotional adjustment, and career success. These articles and the longitudinal data provide a remarkable window into the development and impacts of cognition, and high cognitive functioning, on a variety of important life outcomes that we hope will continue to inform us about additional outcomes in middle life, transition to retirement, and cognition and health in later years and to robustly examine how the early years matter across the whole life span.