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Parenthood may help stave off death in older age

Parenthood is associated with a longer life than being childless, particularly in old age, say Swedish researchers. 

Parenthood is associated with a longer life than being childless, particularly in old age, say Swedish researchers. 


 The researchers found that the risk of death was lower among
those who had at least one child. Picture: iStock  

Using national registry data, they tracked the lifespan of 704,481 men and 725,290 women from the age of 60 onwards, all of whom were living in Sweden and had been born between 1911 and 1925. 

Unsurprisingly, risk of death rose with increasing age, irrespective of whether the individuals were parents or not. But after taking account of influential factors, such as educational attainment, the researchers found that the risk of death was lower among those who had at least one child than among those who were childless. 

Support deficits 

For example, the one-year risk of death for an 80-year-old man with a child was 7.4%, compared with 8.3% for a childless man of the same age. 

'Our finding that the association grew stronger when parents became older is further in agreement with research suggesting that childless people face support deficits towards the end of life,' the study authors said. 


Modig K et al (2017) Payback time? Influence of having children on mortality in old age. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. doi:10.1136/jech-2016-207857 

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