Parity and Mortality amongst Biological and Adoptive Parents in Contemporary Sweden

Kieron Barclay, Stockholm University

This study builds upon a growing literature investigating the relationship between parity and mortality by looking at the mortality of mothers and fathers who adopt children but who have no biological children of their own, as well as biological parents. By this approach we hope to differentiate between the various physiological and social theories proposed for the association observed between parity and mortality. Using Swedish register data, we study post-reproductive mortality amongst women and men from cohorts born between 1910 and 1950. Our results show the relative risks of mortality for adoptive parents are always lower than those of biological parents. Mortality amongst adoptive parents declines with additional children, while for biological parents we observe a U-shaped relationship, where parity-two parents have the lowest mortality. Our discussion considers the relative importance of physiological and social depletion effects, selection processes, and the degree to which children provide support in later life.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Population Aging; Gender, Race and Ethnicity