Parents Live Longer Than Non-Parents, So At Least We Have That Going For Us

by Meredith Bland
Originally Published: 
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Study finds parents live longer than their childless peers

Hey, parents! We’ve got some good news! Non-parents…maybe look elsewhere for a minute. A new study has found that parents tend to live longer than people who don’t have children, despite the fact that many of us are convinced that our children are going to lead to our premature deaths via heart attack or stress explosion (that’s where all your internal organs explode due to stress and we’re pretty sure it’s real.)

In the latest edition of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, there is a study that was conducted by a group of Swedish researchers to see if and why parents live longer than non-parents. They found that, in fact, parents did live longer, and that this effect was stronger in men than in women. For example, at age 60, men lived an average of 2 years longer than childless men of the same age, while for women the difference between mothers and non-mothers was 1.5 years. Among 80-year-olds, fathers lived an average of 8 months longer and mother an average of 7 months longer.

Researchers also found the while it didn’t matter if parents were married or not, unmarried men had the strongest link between increased longevity and having children. That, according to the study, “may relate to [the fact] that marriage has sometimes been shown to be more beneficial to men’s survival than to women’s survival.” Another possible explanation, they said, was “that childless men are generally lower educated than men with children, whereas the opposite is true for women.”

Yowzah. Sweden is not pulling any punches, here, are they? Sweden: the honey badgers of scientific research. Sweden: The “Well, if you didn’t want to know the answer you shouldn’t have asked the question” center of the world. Sweden: author of The Harsh Report: A Study of Zingers. Sweden: there’s no crying in science.

Moving on.

Ultimately, researchers couldn’t say if the difference in longevity was due to the fact that children tend to care for their parents as they get older (though that’s generally agreed to be the most likely reason), or because parents try to stay healthier than non-parents because they have children. A third possibility raised by lead author Karen Modig to CBS News was — for real — natural selection. “Childlessness also could be a sign of natural selection, indicating that people who don’t have kids are subject to biological or social challenges that affect their life expectancy, she suggested.”

Good God, Sweden.

Personally, I plan to live long enough for my children to have children and then call me and say, “Oh, Mom. I had no idea. You were so right about everything. You’re a saint and a hero and I apologize for everything.” But we all have our reasons. In the meantime, we can take some comfort in the idea that while we feel sure that being a parent is going to kill us on the daily, the truth is that it might actually give us an extra 6 months to a year. And that’s…well…it’s not nothing, right? So, take that, non-parents! You may be happier than us, but we’ll be unhappy for a whole year longer than — oh dear I think I lost my point.

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