Open Access

Parenthood and Later Life Health: An International Life Course Analysis of Parents and Childless Adults Aged 50 and Older


This study investigates how women’s and men’s fertility history affect their health in later life and if this relationship varies across countries and cohorts. We use life history data and current health status of persons aged 50 and over from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) for 13 countries. Country-fixed effects regressions show that parenthood itself and the number of children have little impact on later life health, but fertility timing is important. Moreover, significant country and cohort differences show that the health implications of timing depend upon the socio-historic context.