Poorest Costa Ricans live longest. Here are the key graphs:
The researchers also saw hints that strong social and family ties could be an important factor in the Nicoyans’ long lives. Nicoyans are less likely to live alone than other Costa Ricans, and among those who do, the telomere advantage disappears. Previous studies have linked telomere length to psychological factors including stress3 and social relationships4.
Michel Poulain, a demographer and longevity researcher at the Estonian Institute for Population Studies in Tallinn, agrees that social ties could have an important role, particularly those that make elderly people feel needed. He visited Nicoya with the National Geographic project in 2007, and interviewed 35 residents aged 95 and over. “There’s terrific family support,” he says.
Among those who lived alone, the long telomere advantage disappeared.