Fertility history and quality of life in older women and men

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2011


In this paper we examine associations between the fertility histories of older British women and men and their quality of life using data on a sample of 6,374 men and women born between 1923 and 1949 drawn from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). Quality of life in 2001 was measured using scores from the four subscales of the CASP-19 questionnaire: control, autonomy, pleasure and self-realisation. Fertility histories were derived using information on the births of children collected in all waves of the BHPS. The aspects of fertility history investigated were number of children born and parents' ages at birth of first and last child. Age, education, marital status, tenure status, smoking, co-residence with one or more children, perceived social support and health limitations were included as covariates. The results suggested that early entry to parenthood and to some extent high parity were related to poorer quality of life. These associations were mostly mediated by socio-economic, social support and health factors. Compared to women with two children, nulliparous women expressed a higher level of autonomy, and both nulliparous women and those with four or more children a higher level of self-realisation. Low parity was related to a lower level of pleasure, especially among men, but this relationship appeared weaker and among women was not significant when background factors were controlled.

Published in

Ageing and Society


Volume: 31 (1):125-145





not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only



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