Most mothers at some phase have probably supposed their children have taken years off their own lives, but the opposite is true. Parenthood is associated with increased life expectancy. A new analyze exploring this effect attributes it to the care offered by children as their parents age.

Deep in sleep refusal, new parents might sympathize with the old joke that they don’t actually live longer, it only feels like it, but the numbers prove otherwise. Many studies have confirmed that parents do actually have longer lives, on average, than adults who never procreate, but have not been able to explain why.

Dr Karin Modig of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden set out to answer this question, at the least for Swedes. Employing Sweden’s extensive population databases she looked at years of demise for people born between 1911 and 1925, seeing that a human with at the least one child, upon reaching the age of 60, could expect to live two years longer than a childless contemporary. For women, the difference was 1.5 years. With a sample size of more than 1.4 million people, the figures are robust.

Modig reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that, after controlling for education level, the mortality gap rose with age. For example, a 70 -year-old Swedish man born during Modig’s study period had a 3.3 percentage chance of succumbing before reaching 71 if he was childless, but merely 2.9 percent with at the least one child. By 90, the figures were 17.7 and 16.2.

The difference was about twice as large among unmarried men( including widowers and divorcees) as married men.

Modig attributes the difference to the support children provide to aged parents struggling to cope with the changes age brings. This is not just in the form of direct care, but also assistance in navigating the bureaucracies such as the health systems and receiving appropriate living places.

Many other theories has already been been raised to explain parents’ longer life expectancy. Having children reduces the risk of certain cancers in females, and might provide additional unknown benefits. Alternatively, it is possible that parents are, on average, healthier in ways that existing measurements don’t pick up. However, the Swedish data didn’t support a wide range of such theories, at least as the major factor.

The idea that children help keep frailer parents alive by ensuring they get the subsistence and medical attention there is a requirement to is highly consistent with Modig’s observations, with the greatest differences in mortality rates being ensure among the oldest individuals. Most alternative hypotheses predict the difference in mortality should decline with age, in contradiction to what Modig found.

Contrary to some previous asserts, the gender of the children had little impact in this sample.

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