Good news for all the exhausted parents out there: A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that having children can increase a person’s life expectancy by an average of 1.5 to two years. In other words, you’ll get back some of the time you spent staying up all night with crying babies.
The study focused on participants born between 1911 and 1925 and compared the life span of people who did and did not have children. In total, over 700, 000 men and 725, 000 women were followed until their passing. And surprisingly, researchers found that men and women who had at least one child lived longer than people who were childless. The results also pointed out that men who had children tend to live about half a year longer than woman with children.
Although the child’s gender didn’t seem to have an impact on parents’ lifespan, unmarried parents were more likely to live longer than their married counterparts, potentially because children are typically more involved in the health and well-being of a single parent.
The study also highlighted that “the concept of loneliness is only starting to be recognized as a separate entity from social isolation and depression, and therefore few studies have examined it as an independent risk factor.”
Researchers from the report connected shorter lifespans of childless people to the way they can often lead solitary lives and suffer from poor health, with little support from family members.
“Support from adult children to aging parents may be of importance for parental health and longevity,” the report reads. “At old age, the stress of parenthood is likely to be lower and instead, parents can benefit from social support from their children… Our finding that the association grew strong when parents became older is further in agreement with research suggesting that childless people face support deficits only towards the end of life.”
For those who decide to not have children, don’t worry too much. As tradition moves away from parents living with their adult children and moves towards the new norm of middle class workers living alone, especially for women, it wouldn’t be surprising if the results were to even out over the next few years.