Time Does Not Heal All Wounds: Mortality Following the Death of a Parent


  • This article was edited by Jay Teachman.

Centre for Health Equity Studies, Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan, Stockholm 106 91, Sweden (mikael.rostila@chess.su.se).


People linked through social ties are known to have interdependent health. Our aim was to investigate such collateral health effects in the context of offspring mortality after a parent's death in children aged 10–59 years. The data (N = 3,753,368) were from a linked-registers database that contains the total Swedish population. In minor children, we found elevations in mortality risks associated with a parent's death. Adult offspring experienced a reduced mortality risk recently after a parent's death, which over time approached, and in some instances even exceeded, that of the general population. Mother's death tended to have a stronger influence than father's death, unnatural parental deaths had a stronger effect than natural ones, and male offspring were more vulnerable than female offspring.