Not Having Children Could Cause Early Death

Parents who reach the age of 60 can expect to live almost two years longer than people without children Swedish researchers have found Getty Images

Parents who reach the age of 60 can expect to live almost two years longer than people without children Swedish researchers have found Getty Images

"Parents live longer than non-parents, even in the oldest ages", said lead author Karin Modig, an assistant professor of epidemiology with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

While parents are known to be the givers of life, a new study has suggested that children also make their parents live longer.

Using national registry data, scientists tracked the lifespan of Swedish men (704,481) and women (725,290) born between 1911 and 1925, from the age of 60 onwards.

At 60 years of age, the difference in life expectancy between those with children and those without was nearly two years for men and 1.5 years for women.

The study, which ran until the end of 2014, also gathered data on marital status and the number of children they had, and the children's sex. Other explanations for the findings could include the fact that parents have healthier lifestyles than those who are childless, the researchers said.

For example, fathers were expected to live 2 years longer than non-fathers at age 60, while mothers were expected to live 1.5 years longer than non-mothers, according to the study.

"By the age of 60, the difference in life expectancy. may be as much as two years" between people with children and those without, the team concluded in the report published on Monday.

Compared with people who did not have children, the researchers found that those who had at least one child were at lower risk of death.

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The findings apply to men and women, the researchers claim, although fathers saw their life expectancy increase more than mothers.

That study, which looked at 1,600 adults with an average age of 71, found that almost 23 per cent of participants who were considered lonely died within six years of the study. And while an extra 1.5 years of life doesn't seem to be that long, when you're a parent, that means extra holidays, more seasons, and time to bond and watch life in those around you bloom.

In contrast, people who do not have children struggle more for the kind of social support offered by having offspring.

Previous research suggests that being a parent may add years to a person's life, but it's not clear when this apparent advantage may be conferred or whether it could be influenced by the sex of the child (ren).

The gap became bigger with increasing age, again more so for men than for women.

When it came to married with children versus unmarried, the difference in death risk for unmarried men was 1.2 per cent. Researchers speculate that unmarried men might be relying more on their children for care giving in the absence of a partner.

Along with having children, having a significant other could also prevent chances of early death.

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