The Effect of Childlessness on the Health Status of Elders

Robert D. Plotnick, University of Washington

An increasing proportion of American adults are childless. If childless elders require greater health care than elders with children, and childlessness continues to increase, financial pressures on publicly financed health programs will expand faster than the rising dependency ratio would imply. The existence and size of any effects of childlessness on health have received little attention from researchers or policymakers. This study examines the relationship of childlessness to several indicators of elders’ health status. It presents descriptive data on differences between the childless elderly and those with children, and regression models to better establish the net association between childlessness and the outcomes. The Health and Retirement Survey provides the data.

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Presented in Session 160: Understanding the Impact of Population Aging on Future Health Care Cost