Family life history and mortality: associations between combined marriage and childbearing histories and late mid life mortality in Norway
Population and Development Review, 2012, forthcoming.
Using data on all Norwegians born 1935-1968, we analyse the combined effects of fertility history and marital or partnership status and history on mortality. The focus is on age 40-73 and the years 1980-2008 (30 million person-years of observations and 117000 deaths). Among men in first marriage, the childless have 36% higher mortality than those with two or more children. The corresponding figure for women is 61%. The never-married have higher mortality and are differentiated even more by parenthood status. Thus, the combined effect is large: childless never-married men and women have three times as high mortality as those who are married and have two or more children. The advantage associated with having at least two children is smallest among men who divorced before their oldest child’s tenth birthday. Having step-children has no association with mortality for those without natural children but is associated with higher mortality among the parous.