Does Parenthood Affect Mortality? A Study of Norwegian Men and Women Aged 20-67 in the Years 1971-2002

Svenn-Erik Mamelund, University of Oslo

The impact of children on mortality has received some attention, although largely in studies of all-cause mortality. Some studies find weak effects of children on mortality, while others conclude that such effects are strong for either parents or stronger for women than for men. To reach a better understanding of the importance of parenthood for mortality, in this paper I use logistic regression and Norwegian register data that includes cause of death. I analyze effects of children for both sexes controlling for relevant confounders. The specific research questions are: 1) How does the number of dependent children influence the parents’ mortality, given marital status, and does it explain the effects of marital status? 2) Do the sex of adult children and the proximity to these children have effects? Are effects of step-children different from those of own children? In particular, do the children serve as important “buffers” after bereavement?

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Presented in Session 119: Intergenerational Determinants of Health