Do couples with children die earlier?
Couples with children have to deal with sleep deprivation, diminished income, continual caregiving, worrying, etc. With all of these factors that add stress to daily life, I would hypothesize that parents with children live shorter lives.
However, according to multiple studies, none of the data supports my hypothesis. Professor Esben Agerbo conducted a longitudinal study based on this question in which he followed 21,276 couples who had or tried to have children. He found that women who did not have a child were four times more likely to have died in comparison to those who did have a child. His data also showed that fathers with a biological child were twice as likely to die earlier and men who adopted were half as likely to die early as men who had no children.
In addition, another study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that couples who have children- their own or adopted- live longer than couples who do not have children. Women who had children and adoptive mothers were four times less likely to die early from heart disease, cancer, and accidents in comparison to childless women. Michael Eisenberg of Stanford University also found that childless married men had a higher risk of dying from heart disease.
So why do parents with children and the added stress of supporting them live longer?
Due to third variables, such as age, spirituality, education levels, social class, income, and underlying illnesses, there is never a definite answer. Some researchers speculate that parenthood increases longevity due to health behaviors. For instance, they say that some parents try to get to bed earlier because they know that have to get up earlier to help the children. Other researchers theorize that fertility problems may share some of the same origins as other health issues.
According to the data found in the studies, although it is not a guarantee, if you have children, you have a higher chance of living longer.