By Lola Augustine Brown
We’ve known for some time that those who’ve had children live longer, but new research from Sweden has found that the payoff of having children became more pronounced with age, and that men benefited more than women.
Researchers identified and analyzed data on more than 1.4 million people born between 1911 and 1925 and living in Sweden. The results of their analysis, published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed that a 60-year-old man with at least one child was likely to live almost two years longer than his childless neighbour. A 60-year-old mother could expect to outlast a woman with no children by a year and a half.
By 80, men with children could expect to live another seven years and eight months—men without children were looking at another seven years. An 80-year-old mother had a life expectancy seven months longer than that of a childless woman: nine years and six months versus eight years and 11 months.
Acknowledging that their work identified a correlation and not a cause-and-effect relationship, researchers suggested the effect on longevity was a result of parents benefiting from having the physical and emotional support of their children, support that might include their children advocating for better treatment from medical professionals.