Do D-Names = an Early Death?

Did you know that there’s a scholarly journal called Death Studies? Uplifting, isn’t it?

Anyway, several years ago Death Studies published a paper about the relationship between initials and longevity.

It looked at the first initials and the lifespans of people in several groups (athletes, doctors, lawyers) and determined that people with D-names actually had slightly shorter lifespans than other people.

From the abstract:

There was a progressive decrease in longevity associated with names beginning with A to D when all athletes were combined. In each sport, athletes whose first names began with the letter D lived fewer years than those whose names collectively began with E to Z. Doctors and lawyers whose first names began with D also died earlier than those whose names began with E to Z but differences were not statistically significant. A Cox-regression survival analysis for athletes comparing those with names beginning with A, B, C and D vs. E to Z indicated that only those whose names began with D (median survival = 68.1 years) differed significantly from those with E to Z names (median survival = 69.9 years).

An unfortunate consequence of the name letter effect?

Source: Abel, Ernest L. and Michael L. Kruger. “Athletes, Doctors, and Lawyers with First Names Beginning with “D” Die Sooner.” Death Studies 34.1 (2009): 71-81. (via Are David, Dan and Doug going to die young?)


3 thoughts on “Do D-Names = an Early Death?

  1. Purely anecdotal, but my grandmother’s Aunt Detje lived to be 103 and my dad’s cousin Dorothy is a very vital 93 year old.

  2. There is no effect at all. If you test all 26 letters in a match one against the rest there must be some outliers. It just happens to be the letter D here. Nothing significant, because of the number of hypotheses tested.

  3. Gary Smith of Pomona College re-examined Abel & Kruger’s numbers and, contrary to what we find published in Death Studies, his “results are consistent with the presumption that initials have little effect on life expectancy and that findings to the contrary may be due to a selective choice of subjects, time periods, and initials.” Here’s his paper [pdf].

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