Childbearing history, health, and mortality after age 50 in the USA

John C. Henretta, University of Florida

This paper examines the effect of a woman’s childbearing history, particularly her age at first birth and number of children ever born, on her later health and mortality. Data are drawn from the first five waves (1992 to 2000) of the U.S. Health and Retirement Study birth cohort of 1931-41. Results indicate that, conditional on survival to 1992, early childbearing before age 20 is associated with a higher hazard of dying over the period. There is not a similar effect for men. Having an early birth is also associated with a higher probability of reporting heart disease, lung disease, or cancer in 1992. Parity has inconsistent effects on both mortality and presence of health conditions.

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Presented in Session 11: Family life, health and mortality