Journal Article

Parental age and offspring mortality: negative effects of reproductive ageing may be counterbalanced by secular increases in longevity

Population Studies, 72:2, 157–173 (2018)
Open Access


As parental ages at birth continue to rise, concerns about the effects of fertility postponement on offspring are increasing. Due to reproductive ageing, advanced parental ages have been associated with negative health outcomes for offspring, including decreased longevity. The literature, however, has neglected to examine the potential benefits of being born at a later date. Secular declines in mortality mean that later birth cohorts are living longer. We analyse mortality over ages 30–74 among 1.9 million Swedish men and women born 1938–60, and use a sibling comparison design that accounts for all time-invariant factors shared by the siblings. When incorporating cohort improvements in mortality, we find that those born to older mothers do not suffer any significant mortality disadvantage, and that those born to older fathers have lower mortality. These findings are likely to be explained by secular declines in mortality counterbalancing the negative effects of reproductive ageing.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.