Mortality Differentials of Supporters and the Supported – Impact of Current and Previous Kinship Compositions on Post-Reproductive Female Survival

Kai Willfuehr, University of Oldenburg

Reproduction embedded in kin networks is associated with lower female reproductive-related mortality and greater reproductive success in comparison to reproduction in single-headed or nuclear families. Especially the maternal grandmother appears to be beneficial for her reproductive daughter as well as her children. However, to date little is known about potential costs or benefits later in life, if previous reproduction was organized in kin networks. Is female old age mortality affected with there was substantial support of kin in the reproductive period of life? And further, it is also unclear whether current supporting the offspring with their reproduction is affecting mortality of the post-reproductive helpers themselves. Is grandmaternal survival affected by childcare engagement? I use Cox survival models to investigate the impact of the number of reproductive children as well as grandchildren as a proxy for current grandparental childcare engagement and previous kinship composition characteristics as a proxy for previous received kin support on the mortality of 3,869 post-reproductive females (+45) born to marriages contracted between 1720 and 1800 in the population of the Krummhörn region (Germany). There are a couple of major challenges in investigating the association between mortality and kinship composition: Firstly, kinship composition and living arrangements reflect to some extend socio-economic characteristics. Secondly, correlation between individual and family characteristics as well as assortative mating might disguise costs and benefits of living with kin. To distinguish between different kin effects, I rely on a combination of models stratified at the family-level as well as on socio-economic-class. Findings show that post-reproductive females engaged with current grandparental childcare exhibit lower mortality than females without grandchildren in close spatial proximity. This is partly explained by phenotypic correlation. I further find that high parity females exhibit higher mortality later in life, but mixed evidence that mortality is affected by previous kinship composition.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 219. Kinship and SES Effects on Adult Mortality and Longevity