Educated children help women live longer, study says

October 3, 2018 by Shannon Thomason, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Women's education, occupation and wealth are related to the length of their lives, social scientists have found. Simply put, women who attain more generally live longer.

But a new study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior argues that longevity is not just about personal achievement—family matters, too.

Biographical information on 3,349 women between the ages of 30 and 44 in 1967, and who are now members of the growing elderly population in the United States, were examined by lead author Joseph D. Wolfe, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Sociology, and colleagues.

Results from the study suggest that women's mortality risk is related to their personal wealth, to their parents' occupations and to their adult children's educations.

"Survival is a family affair," Wolfe said.

The study also finds racial differences. While education lowered mortality risk for white women by assisting in , black women's education had no association with their . However, when Wolfe and colleagues considered adult children, they found that the education of was a strong predictor of both black and white women's survival.

"This could mean that the education of 's children provides resources that their own education, in addition to the educational attainments of their parents and spouses, does not provide," Wolfe said.

This study also suggests a novel approach for reducing premature morbidity, disability and death among older adults.

"By 2050, the Census Bureau projects the number of persons age 65 and older will be 83.7 million. As the United States prepares for this increase in the population of , our findings suggest that social policies aimed at addressing educational inequalities among children and adolescents from disadvantaged families may offer a potential path to reducing health disparities among the elderly," Wolfe said.

Explore further: Social isolation puts elderly at health risk

More information: Joseph D. Wolfe et al. Multigenerational Attainments, Race, and Mortality Risk among Silent Generation Women, Journal of Health and Social Behavior (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0022146518784596

Related Stories

Social isolation puts elderly at health risk

April 13, 2018

One in five elderly adults is socially isolated from family or friends, increasing their risks for poor mental and physical health, as well as higher rates of mortality, according to a University of Michigan study.

Recommended for you

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.