1. bookVolume 84 (2022): Issue 4 (January 2022)
Journal Details
First Published
24 Jan 2008
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

Exploring the effects of birth order on human lifespan in Polish historical populations, 1738–1968

Published Online: 01 Jan 2022
Page range: 383 - 394
Received: 28 Jun 2021
Accepted: 08 Nov 2021
Journal Details
First Published
24 Jan 2008
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

While the relationships between birth order and later outcomes in life, including health and wealth, have been the subject of investigation for several decades, little or no data exist regarding the relationship between birth order and life expectancy in the Polish population. The aim of this study was to explore the link between birth order and lifespan in Polish historical populations. We obtained 8523 records from a historical dataset that was established for parishioners from the borough of Bejsce, including 4463 males and 4060 females. These data pertain to the populations that lived over a long period in a group of localities for which parish registers were well preserved. The Mann-Whitney U test, the Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA and ANCOVA were run. The results strongly suggest that birth order affects male longevity. However, no such association was found for females. On balance, the hypothesis that first-born boys live longer because they are born to relatively younger parents has received some empirical support and deserves further study. We hypothesise that the effects of birth order on human health and lifespan might be overshadowed by other factors, including educational attainment, socioeconomic status and lifestyle.


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