Life skills, such as persistence, conscientiousness and control, are as important to wealth and wellbeing in later life as they are when people are much younger, according to new research led by UCL.
Five life skills – emotional stability, determination, control, optimism and conscientiousness – play a key role in promoting educational and occupational success in early life but little has been known about their importance in later life.
In the study, published in the journal PNAS, the academics looked at the impact of these attributes in over 8,000 men and women aged 52 and older who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.
The researchers found that people who have more life skills enjoy a range of benefits including greater financial stability, less depression, low social isolation, better health and fewer chronic diseases.
They benefitted from favourable objective biomarkers in the blood including lower levels of cholesterol and of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation relevant to a number of different diseases. They also had smaller waistlines, where fat accumulation is particularly relevant to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, than people with few life skills.