Danielle Smith: Is It More Stressful to Work, or Stay Home with the Kids?

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Trying to get to the bottom of why women outlive men, and why there are far more women over the age of 100 than men, I landed in a bit of hot water Monday.

My guest was Dawn Bowdish, associate professor of immunology at McMaster University. She raised some excellent points about biological, lifestyle and sociological differences that contributed to a difference in longevity in the past.

She noted that as women and men started living more similar lifestyles, the life expectancy difference narrowed too – women are now expected to live to age 84 compared to age 80 for men. However, there is a persistent four-year age-gap and women continue to have a longer maximum life expectancy than men.

The 10 oldest people in the world are women; it remains to be seen whether that changes over time as well.

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A listener suggested that the reason for men’s shorter lives was that they had more stress because of work. My guest countered that many would say that staying home with the kids is more stressful.


I tend to agree. Remembering back to the times I used to babysit and worried about the tots escaping from the backyard, falling off their bike, getting run over by a car, having an allergic reaction, falling down the stairs, sticking their finger in a light socket, drowning in the bath, choking on an apple or any of a thousand other things that could have gone wrong, I’m stressed out just thinking about it.

Factoring in having to constantly clean up after messes, never having a moment alone and chronic sleep deprivation only compounds the stress, in my opinion. By comparison, doing three hours of live radio is a vacation.

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So what do you think: is it more stressful to work, or stay home with the kids? Let me know at

My full interview with professor Dawn Bowdish is below:

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