Fear not, parents: there is some upside to raising those kids of yours. A new study suggests parenthood is linked to a longer life than your childless peers.
That is, if you manage to survive sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, and teenage angst.
Fathers benefited slightly more in life expectancy than mothers, researchers wrote in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health – and this was even more prevalent in old age.
“By the age of 60, the difference in life expectancy… may be as much as two years” between people with, and those without, children, the research team concluded.
The study involved tracking the lifespan of men and women born between 1911-1925 living in Sweden; it included roughly 1.4 million people overall. They also accrued data on the participants marriage situation, and of course, if they had children.
The team concluded people with at least one child had ‘lower death risks’ than those who are unburdened with offspring.
“At 60 years of age, the difference in life expectancy was two years for men and 1.5 years for women” compared to peers with no kids, the researchers said.
Having said that, this doesn’t necessarily mean having children will instantly extend life expectancy. The study points out a correlation, nothing more, the researchers admitted. But, they feel parents also benefit from the social & financial support of their children in old age, which people with no kids don’t enjoy.
Or, childless people may just live unhealthier lifestyles than parents do.
The correlation was strongest for single, older men; the benefits of having children were found in both married and unmarried parents. Again, these single men may rely on their kids more heavily due to the absence of a partner, in addition to advanced age.
This research is significant, as fewer people are having kids in Sweden, and at the same time, older people are scoffing at old age institutions for home care – most often by their children.
“Therefore, to further investigate health and survival consequences for childless older individuals is of importance,” wrote the researchers.