Being a parent comes with a lot of joy and happiness, but findings show that this could also be your ticket to a longer life. Recent research shows that couples with kids have a lower risk of premature death than those who are childless, especially in their old age. This is more so in men than amongst women. The study also shows that the sex of the child/children does not affect these odds at all.
Dr. Karin Modig of Karolinska Institute, Sweden, found that couples with children might live up to 2 years more than childless ones. Though studies have been done on this subject before, no concrete explanation for such findings has been given so far. Also, no previous research focused on how this risk changes as a couple grows older. Looking upon this as a good reason for research, Dr. Karin’s team studied national data of 725,290 women and 704,481 men (all living in Sweden), all of whom were born between 1911 and 1925.
The analysis was based on the number of children, marital status, and sex of the kids. Research was then done on how being a parent influenced the lifespan of people after the age of 60. Findings proved that women with children were likely to live almost 1.5 years longer than childless women; in the case of men the lifespan was increased by almost 2 years.
The relation between having children and the increase in lifespan grew as the couple grew older. Unmarried men seem to reap the most from parenthood in this regard. For example, for 80-year old men the difference in death risk between unmarried men who are childless and those with at least one kid is 1.2%, but the same difference between married men is 0.6%. The respective percentage for women is 0.9% and 0.8%.
The study did speculate that the explanation could be in the fact that old unmarried men rely more on their children, which may be the reason of a lower death risk of unmarried men when compared with that of married men.
Dr. Karin Modig believes that the greater support that offspring give to their parents in the older years may be the reason for their longer life. In contrast, childless people don’t have such support as they grow older. Another supporting reason to this study could be that parents have healthier behaviors and socialize more than childless couples.
The study and its results are certain but the reasons behind the results are yet to be explained. More research needs to be done on the subject, preferably using data from other parts of the world as well, to verify the findings.