Biodemography and Social Biology vol:62 issue:2 pages:164-181
This study analyzes the intergenerational effects of late childbearing on offspring’s adult longevity in a population in Utah (United States)that does not display evidence of parity-specific birth control—a so called natural fertility population. Studies have found that for women who experience late menopause and prolonged reproduction, aging
is postponed and longevity is increased. This is believed to indicate female “robustness” and the impact of biological or genetic factors. If indeed there is a genetic component involved, one would expect to also find evidence for the intergenerational transmission of longevity
benefits. Our study investigates the relationship between prolonged natural fertility of mothers and their offspring’s survival rates in adulthood. Gompertz regression models (N = 7,716) revealed that the offspring of mothers who were naturally fertile until a relatively
advanced age lived significantly longer. This observed positive effect of late reproduction was not independent of but conditional upon survival of the mother to the end of her fecundity (defined as age 50). Offspring’s relative risks at death beyond age 50 were 6–12 percent lower than those of their counterparts born to mothers who had an
average age at last birth. Our results, which account for various early,adult, and later-life conditions, as well as shared frailty, suggest that there is a positive relationship between mother’s age at last birth and
offspring longevity, and strengthen the notion that age at menopause is a good predictor of this relationship.