Reproductive History and Mortality in Late Middle Age Among Norwegian Men and Women

Emily Grundy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Oystein Kravdal, University of Oslo

We use register data to derive fertility histories for Norwegian men and women born 1935-58 and discrete-time hazard modeling to analyse later-life mortality by aspects of reproductive history. 63,312 deaths were observed during 14.5 million person years of follow-up 1980-2003 when subjects were aged 45-68. Models included detailed information on educational and marital status. Odds of death were highest for the childless and next highest for those who had had only one child. Among the parous we found a positive association between earlier parenthood and later mortality, a reverse association with late age at last birth, and an overall negative association between higher parity and mortality. The similarity of results for women and men suggests biosocial pathways underlying associations between reproductive history and health. The lack of any high parity disadvantage suggests that in the ‘family friendly’ Norwegian environment, the health benefits of having several children may outweigh the costs.

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Presented in Session 136: The Biodemography of Aging