Parental Age at Birth and Health of the Offspring at Age 65

Daphne Kuo, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Parental age at birth significantly influences health and well-being of the offspring in childhood or in young adulthood. This paper examined the relationships between parental age and health of the offspring at age 65, controlling for an array of childhood and adulthood variables. Parental age was measured in two ways: at birth of the first child and at birth of the respondent. Health outcomes included general health status, number of physical symptoms, number of medical conditions and cognitive ability. Using high school graduate respondents from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (1957-2004), I found that parental age at first birth was a robust predictor for health of the offspring at age 65, and that the associations were independent of effects of parental SES, adverse childhood, one's own cognitive ability in childhood, SES, fertility and marriage. Additionally, controlling for childhood health, parental mortality, and one's own health at age 54, the relations sustained. Possible mechanisms were discussed.

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Presented in Session 12: Life Course Perspectives on Aging