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Childbearing History, Later Life Health, and Mortality in Germany

Karsten Hank

University of Cologne

June 1, 2010

SOEPpaper No. 305

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.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Reproductive History, Health, Mortality, Life Course, SOEP

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Date posted: June 9, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Hank, Karsten, Childbearing History, Later Life Health, and Mortality in Germany (June 1, 2010). SOEPpaper No. 305. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1622755 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1622755

Contact Information

Karsten Hank (Contact Author)
University of Cologne ( email )
Cologne, 50923
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