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Soc Biol. 2002 Fall-Winter;49(3-4):185-205.

Fertility and post-reproductive longevity.

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  • 1Department of Family and Consumer Studies, 225 South 1400 East, Rm 228, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA.


We examine the effects of reproduction on longevity among mothers and fathers after age 60. This study is motivated by evolutionary theories of aging and theories predicting social benefits and costs of children to older parents. We use the Utah Population Database, that includes a large genealogical database from the Utah Family History Library. Cox proportional hazard models based on 13,987 couples married between 1860-1899 indicate that women with fewer children as well as those bearing children late in life live longer post-reproductive lives. As the burdens of motherhood increase, the relative gains in longevity of late fertile women increase compared to their non-late fertile counterparts. Husbands' longevity is less sensitive to reproductive history, although husbands have effects that are similar to those of their wives during the latter marriage cohort. We find some support for predictions based on evolutionary principles, but we also find evidence that implicates a role for shared marital environments.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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