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The Janzen-Connell hypothesis explains the maintenance of tropical diversity through the interacting effects of parent-centered dispersal patterns and distance- and density-dependent propagule survival. These effects were thought to support regular spacing of species within tropical forest, enhancing diversity. One of the predictions of the hypothesis is that seed and seedling survival should improve with increased parental distance. Although there are many independent tests of this hypothesis for individual species, there are few synthetic studies that have brought these data together to test its validity across species. This paper reports the results of a meta-analysis of the effect of distance on enhancing propagule survival, employing an odds-ratio effect size metric. We found no general support for the distance-dependent prediction of the hypothesis, and conclude that further testing to explore this hypothesis as a diversity-maintaining mechanism is unnecessary. However, we did find that distance from parent slightly reduces survivorship in the temperate zone, as contrasted with the tropics, and we saw stronger evidence in support of the hypothesis for seedlings than for seeds. The phenomenon of enhanced propagule survival with distance from the parent may be important for the population biology of particular species, but it is not a general phenomenon across communities, life history stages or life forms.