London: Childless women have a 20 per cent higher risk of dying younger than those with two children, according to research from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council.
The statistics also show that childless women also had a greater chance of developing diseases such as breast cancer.
About one in five women born in 1960, now reaching the end of their reproductive age, is childless. This compares to one in ten of those born in 1945.
The new research studied almost 100,000 women in the UK and the U.S. from 1911 onwards.
Professor Emily Grundy, of the Centre for Population Studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that earlier research had already proven that childless women had a higher risk of breast cancer.
The researchers concluded that a happy family life has a positive influence on health.
The research found that women who wait fewer than 18 months between having children are likely to die younger than those who take their time to raise a family. Mothers with short gaps between births were more likely to develop long-term illnesses and had a 20 per cent higher death rate after 50.
Fathers from families where children were born in quick succession also appeared to suffer a higher mortality risk, but the effect was less pronounced.