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Childbearing History, Later Life Health, and Mortality in Germany

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  • Karsten Hank

Abstract

Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we investigated the role of childbearing history in later life health and mortality, paying particular attention to possible differences by sex and region. Higher parity is associated with better self-rated health in Western German mothers and fathers aged 50+, but its relationship with Eastern German women's physical health and survival is negative. Early motherhood is paralleled by poorer physical health in West Germany, whereas late motherhood is associated with lower psychological well-being in East Germany. Moreover, among Western German women, having had a non-marital first birth is weakly correlated with lower physical health. Our findings support the notion of biosocial pathways playing an important role in shaping the fertility-health-nexus. Specifically, the Western German "male breadwinner" model of specialisation appears to have buffered the stresses associated with childrearing, whereas fertility off the "normative" life course track supposedly had adverse effects on women's health in West Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Karsten Hank, 2010. "Childbearing History, Later Life Health, and Mortality in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 305, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp305
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.357373.de/diw_sp0305.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin O’Flaherty & Janeen Baxter & Michele Haynes & Gavin Turrell, 2016. "The Family Life Course and Health: Partnership, Fertility Histories, and Later-Life Physical Health Trajectories in Australia," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(3), pages 777-804, June.
    2. Robin S. Högnäs & David J. Roelfs & Eran Shor & Christa Moore & Thomas Reece, 2017. "J-Curve? A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression of Parity and Parental Mortality," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 36(2), pages 273-308, April.
    3. Barclay, Kieron & Keenan, Katherine & Grundy, Emily & Kolk, Martin & Myrskylä, Mikko, 2016. "Reproductive history and post-reproductive mortality: A sibling comparison analysis using Swedish register data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 82-92.
    4. Karsten Hank & Michael Wagner, 2013. "Parenthood, Marital Status, and Well-Being in Later Life: Evidence from SHARE," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 639-653, November.
    5. Shor, Eran & Roelfs, David J. & Bugyi, Paul & Schwartz, Joseph E., 2012. "Meta-analysis of marital dissolution and mortality: Reevaluating the intersection of gender and age," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 46-59.
    6. Kruk, Kai Eberhard & Reinhold, Steffen, 2014. "The effect of children on depression in old age," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-11.
    7. Barclay, Kieron & Keenan, Katherine & Grundy, Emily & Kolk, Martin & Myrskylä, Mikko, 2016. "Reproductive history and post-reproductive mortality: a sibling comparison analysis using Swedish register data," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65602, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    Keywords

    reproductive history; health; mortality; life course; SOEP;

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